How FDR transformed Thanksgiving

FDR transformed a lot of things while in office – most of them not very good. For starters, he ushered in social security, raised taxes to 94% and tried to regulate the price of food by slaughtering pigs. So what did he do to alter Thanksgiving Day forever? Glenn explained on radio today.

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“We were talking at the beginning of the hour about Thanksgiving and where Thanksgiving came from and how it happened, and the first Thanksgiving was actually more of a fast than anything else because the only account we have is from a guy named Edward Winslow in 1621, and the letter was lost almost 200 years and rediscovered in the 1800s by a Boston publisher, Alexander Young. And he published it in 1841. Few years later, right after the Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln decided that he needed to have another Thanksgiving. Washington had one. He declared one day of Thanksgiving, but Lincoln said ‘We have to have one every year,’ and it was the fourth year of Thanksgiving. Remember that. The fourth — I’m sorry. The fourth week of November was Thanksgiving, the last Thursday. But that’s not what it is. It’s usually last week. This is a very late Thanksgiving. So how did that happen?

Well, in comes the progressive era: I, Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, do hereby designate as a day of general Thanksgiving Thursday, the 28th of this present November, and I recommend that throughout the land people cease from their wanted occupations. This is the first time — notice the date is still the same, but this is the first time that a president says we should take the day off. This is unusual because up until the progressive era, we thought it was abhorrent to take Christmas off. In fact, Scrooge was actually not unusual. Scrooge was the norm. Most people worked. In fact, the pilgrims and our founders thought it would be crass to take the day off and make it a day not of work for either holiday, either Thanksgiving or Christmas. We worked on Christmas. But the progressives wanted to cease from occupations.

Several of homes and places of worship we should reverently thank the giver of all good for the countless blessings in our national life. You’ll notice it’s our national life now. Woodrow Wilson did the same thing: I, Woodrow Wilson, president of the United States of America do hereby designate Thursday, the 27th of November as a day of Thanksgiving and prayer and invite the people throughout the land to cease from their wanted occupations.

Now we’re at the go at the beginning of the depression, 1931. Things are bad. Herbert Hoover: I therefore, Herbert Hoover, president of the United States, do hereby designate Thursday, November 26th as the national day of Thanksgiving and recommend that our people rest from their daily labors and in their homes and accustomed places of worship give devout thanks for the blessings which a merciful father had bestowed upon us.” While most people wanted to work, he’s saying rest from your labor.

But here comes the big change in 1939. FDR. It was always the — it was always the fourth Thursday of November that was the annual day of Thanksgiving. From 1863 to 1939, it was the fourth Thursday of November. Why did it change in 1939? Well, as all good progressives know, as all good lefties know — because after all, the left is the one that hates business. The Democrats are the ones who hate commercialism. The Democrats are the ones who absolutely despise the fact that big business rules the world.

At the tail end of the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt, hoping to boost the economy by providing shoppers and merchants a few extra days to conduct their business between Thanksgiving and Christmas, moved Thanksgiving to November’s third Thursday. So the only reason why we changed the position of Thanksgiving is because we officially, in FDR’s term, third term, officially disconnected it from God and connected it to shopping. A Gallup poll at the time showed 59% of Americans disapproved of the date change. 22 states decided to go along with Roosevelt’s plan. 23 said, no, the old date; we should not be connecting this with shopping. We should be connecting this with the Lord.

In the press November 30th was referred to as the Republican Thanksgiving because it was connected to God and connected to the founding and connected to Abraham Lincoln. But the 23rd, the one that we still celebrate today, was known as the democratic Thanksgiving, or as the Atlantic City mayor Thomas Taggart dubbed it, he said it was Franksgiving, after FDR.

In 1941 the Wall Street Journal took a whole bunch of data and declared that the move was a bust. It provided no real boost to retail sales. But that’s because most of America still had a problem with shopping on Thanksgiving because that’s not what it was about.”

  • BlueMN

    Beck is right, thank God for TR, FDR and the “Progressives” that we have Thanksgiving and Christmas off from work and can spend the time with our families instead.

    • snowleopard (cat folk gallery)

      In other words you thanks the gods of the left for ensuring government continues to interfere with the legitimate right of business owners to conduct business.

      Little wonder why liberalism is an insanity of the highest order, there is no morality or integrity at all in your pursuit of pagan gods.

      • BlueMN

        Please note “God” is capitalized and I do not worship half cat/half human gods at all. You can worship whatever deities you like including, apparently, the dollar.

        • Anonymous

          I have never agreed with snowleopard before, but this time he is right. He said “gods”, which implies all possible gods. I capitalize God when referring to the particular god of a religion – and always when referring to the Christian God. But not when referring to gods – although if I were a polytheist Greek or Roman I’d say Gods.

    • MisterBee

      In other words, it is good that the date of a privately held holiday was altered because government said it wasn’t good enough.

  • Sam Fisher

    At least FDR got those right.

    • MisterBee

      He did it for economic management reasons which only shows that whenever the government manages the economy it also has to manage a great deal of everything else connected with it such as when we celebrate holidays. What if FDR decided to do that for Christmas?

  • Ed

    This is why there is the Turkey gag on the calender in the film HOLIDAY INN.

  • Anonymous

    Thank goodness for the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Whoever decided that those weeks didn’t boost sales really ought to see things now. Seems to be that TV ads and programming do more for the season than anything else. With sales people working on Thanksgiving it seems like things are going back to the way they were before the day became a holiday. So in reality the people who say they won’t shop on Thanksgiving because they “believe in families” are doing a dis-service to what the day really represents.

  • Kay

    As far as I know, individual states celebrated Thanksgiving, but Lincoln made it a federal holiday as a way to try and unite the country during the civil war. Some woman had been lobbying for it for some time. Sara, I think her name was. Lincoln was the first President to put her idea into effect.

  • Anonymous

    I’m confused. I remember Thanksgiving as the third Thursday as FDR designated it – but this year it is the fourth. When did we change back?

    • JP

      See my comment.

  • MisterBee

    What he is saying FDR wanted to stimulate the economy by moving thanksgiving away from a Godly holiday to a date where it would be easier for people to shop. OK

  • JP

    Glenn, I like you but you are reaching on this one. FDR might have tried to change when Thanksgiving fell, but he failed. It’s still the 4th Thursday. The confusion is that the “fourth Thursday” and “the last Thursday” are not the same. In every month, except February, when it has 28 days, a couple of days will occur five times. If November 29th were a Thursday, that would mean that the 1st, 8th, 15th, and 22nd were also Thursdays, and the 29th is then the fifth and last Thursday of the month. In that case Thanksgiving would continue to fall on the 4th Thursday, which would be the 22nd, thus causing Thanksgiving to seem early because there would be over a week left in November.
    Memorial Day is different, it is the last Monday in May, the last Monday will always be the last Monday, which means that most of the time it is also the 4th Monday, but sometimes will be the 5th Monday.
    You do good work Glenn, but I don’t see a Progressive plot here.

    • Anonymous

      I tugs me forelock respectful, and bows me head in shame for having “next to last” in mind. My only excuse is that at my age I’ve had many 5 Thursday months.

      I am of two minds when it comes to the date or day of a celebration/holiday. We used to celebrate the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln on the dates, now they are combined as President’s Day. Yet we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday on the date. We used to celebrate Armistice Day on 11/11 with a moment of silence when the truce was signed at 11:00 am (11/11/11), and now Veteran’s Day. I have no objection to the changes, we have many more wars to memorialize now. Should that be shifted to a day of the week rather than a date? I don’t know.

      Dates are not sacred, they have changed over the years. The shift from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian and then the modification of the Gregorian to account for its errors. Those that work on a lunar calendar, as the Jewish celebrations do, are shifting the actual “time of year” by as much as a bit more than a month over the cycle.

      For those who want to celebrate on the exact day I’ll suggest that all holidays should be celebrated in relation to the two solstices (summer and winter) and the two equinoxes (spring and fall). Let each holiday be a certain number of days after one of them. It still will be off a bit due to the drift that is corrected on the calender every 4 years (leap year) and every 400 (no leap year). Channukah could be calculated as a certain number of days after the fall equinox – with the number of days being calculated by working back to the event and calculating the solar day then translating.

      OK, a bit tongue in cheek – but the point is that the date, or the day, doesn’t really matter as it is probably historically inaccurate anyway (except for recent events). What is sacred is the memory, and the solemn celebration of it!

  • Defend Liberty

    In the 5,880 words of the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, the word democracy isn’t mentioned once.

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