Thanksgiving: Washington started it, Lincoln cemented it and FDR commercialized it

John Moore/Getty Images

What does the nursey rhyme "Mary had a Little Lamb" have to do with the Battle of Gettysburg and Black Friday? All three are directly related to the history of Thanksgiving.

Many people assume that Thanksgiving has remained the same since that first meeting between the Wampanoag Native American tribe and the Pilgrims. It hasn't. The truth is, if not for a few incredibly important events, we would not celebrate one of the most American holidays at all.

George Washington was the first President to have an official Thanksgiving, as approved by Congress in 1777, but it was not yet the annual celebration that we know it as today. In 1789, Washington called for a day of Thanksgiving in celebration of the newly formed United States.

RELATED: George Washington Throws Traditional Thanksgiving for a Loop

John Adams followed the tradition.

But Thomas Jefferson, as third President, felt that Thanksgiving violated the separation of church and state. Presidents upheld this view until 1863, the third year of the Civil War. The same year as the Battle of Gettysburg. The year that more than 100,000 soldiers died in the fight between the North and the South.

In part we can thank novelist and poet Sarah Josepha Hale, the woman who wrote "Mary had a Little Lamb" for making Thanksgiving the holiday that it is. For twenty years, Hale maintained a letter-writing campaign to have Thanksgiving recognized as a national holiday. She wrote letters to 5 presidents and many more governors. Nobody responded.

Then came April 12, 1861, the beginning of the Civil War. Hale saw the need for a national day of thanksgiving as more important than ever before. She believed that it could bring our divided country back together.

A couple years later, one of Sarah Hale's letters landed on President Lincoln's desk. Days later, on October 3, 1863, in honor of the Union's victory at Gettysburg, Lincoln declared that the final Thursday of November be observed indefinitely as a national holiday of Thanksgiving.

In this 1863 proclamation, Lincoln called on Americans "in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."

The proclamation was also published several weeks later in Harper's Weekly on October 17, 1863.

Harold Holzer, historian and chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation describes Lincoln as "the father of the whole idea of a nation giving thanks for its advantages and privileges of living in a democracy like this," he said.

The proclamation offers a number of reasons to be thankful:

The civil war that so recently closed among us has not been anywhere reopened; foreign intervention has ceased to excite alarm or apprehension; intrusive pestilence has been benignly mitigated; domestic tranquility has improved, sentiments of conciliation have largely prevailed, and affections of loyalty and patriotism have been widely renewed; our fields have yielded quite abundantly, our mining industry has been richly rewarded, and we have been allowed to extend our railroad system far into the interior recesses of the country, while our commerce has resumed its customary activity in foreign seas. These great national blessings demand a national acknowledgment.

Following Lincoln's proclamation, Thanksgiving was still by no means the reliable holiday that we know it as today. It had no permanent fixed date, and it was often up to state governors whether or not any given state would celebrate the holiday.

During the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the third Thursday of November, in order to encourage shopping the following day—in other words, FDR created Black Friday.

Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the third Thursday of November, in order to encourage shopping the following day—in other words, FDR created Black Friday.

It wasn't until 1942, however, that Congress passed a law that made Thanksgiving an official holiday nationwide, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

Thanksgiving has itself undergone a uniquely American struggle, and, in doing so, revealed its own distinctly American spirit. We are lucky that it has outlasted those struggles, and it is important to be thankful for the very holiday that designates a day for gratitude, a day of thanksgiving.

Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) may say he's all about advocating for the common good, but during his more than 30 years in "public service," the socialist senator has been more adept at promoting his own bottom line.

Investigative journalist and best-selling author, Peter Schweizer, joined Glenn Beck in the studio Friday to discuss his new book, "Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America's Political Elite," and to break downs how Sanders has become the very model of the corrupt socialist leader who becomes wealthy at the expense of the citizens they are elected to serve.

"It's a major problem for Bernie Sanders," Schweizer said. "He's turned socialism into a profession that has generated a lot of money to his family."

"Isn't that what always happens?" Glenn asked. "I mean, everybody in charge of a socialist country, they walk away with billions, in some cases, and the people are left starving."

"Yes, that's exactly right," agreed Schweizer. "It is a racket for Bernie Sanders. And the sort of austere image that he presents —kind of the John the Baptist of the progressive movement — it's simply not true."

Watch the video below for more details:


Want more from Glenn Beck?

To watch the full interview with Peter Schweizer and more exclusive content, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream. Use code GLENN to save $10 on your subscription.

By now you've probably heard all about former Vice President Joe Biden's alleged corruption in Ukraine with his son, Hunter, and the Ukrainian energy company, Burisma. But as it turns out, the Biden family's dubious dealings weren't limited to Ukraine, but extended to China as well.

In this clip, Glenn Beck explains Hunter Biden's four primary "problems" in China, including partnering with criminals, working with Chinese companies accused of stealing and spying on the U.S. military, as well as some very sketchy investments.

Watch the video below for more details:

Want more from GlennTV?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream. Use code GLENN to save $10 on one year of BlazeTV.

Bill O'Reilly joined the "Glenn Beck Radio Program" on Friday for his weekly take on the 2020 presidential race.

O'Reilly emphasized what a dangerous candidate socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) really is, and how the media is working to mislead voters by depicting other Democratic candidates, such as former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, as "moderate."

"The Democratic Party has been hijacked -- and this is no breaking news -- by the progressive left. Which is now being enabled by the national media," said O'Reilly.

"Bernie Sanders is a dangerous man. In any sane time, media time, that would be clear to everybody. But it's not," he added. "It's like, 'Oh, there's uncle Bernie and he just wants to give stuff away. What a great guy.' [He's] not a great guy, all right? He's a totalitarian. He'll take your freedom, in every area, away. Every area. There isn't one area, that Bernie Sanders wouldn't intrude upon, in your personal freedom. Yet, that's not reported. You don't know it unless you pay attention. It's all a bunch of dishonest blather that has obliterated the so-called moderate Democrat. And there are millions of those people. They don't know what to do because they have no voice in the media."

Glenn pointed out that the media has been "trying to make Pete Buttigieg into a moderate" ever since his strong showing in the Iowa caucuses last week.

"So, Pete Buttigieg: Harvard grad. Rhodes Scholar. Brilliant man, he is brilliant. Great speaker. Almost as good as Beck and I. Not quite, but almost," O'Reilly said. "He's only 38, all right? So, the guy goes out and runs for president after being the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, for eight years, and almost destroying that city. The city is in chaos, yet he's re-elected with 80% of the vote the second time. That's what a good BS'er Pete Buttigieg is.

The two went on to break down Buttegieg's radical policy plans on immigration, abortion, gun control, and more.

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream. Use code GLENN to save $10 on one year of BlazeTV.

On the radio program Thursday, Glenn Beck and his chief researcher, Jason Buttrill, have uncovered new evidence that suggests the coronavirus death toll numbers coming from China are grossly inaccurate.

After vetting several deep-fake videos circulating on social media, Jason unearthed shocking whistleblower-videos released by citizens of the communist state that show entire warehouses filled with body bags, along with other atrocities.

Jason and Glenn break down the real numbers and discuss the possibilities of the outbreak coming to America. Watch the video below for more details:

Don't miss next Wednesday's TV special on the coronavirus in its new time slot at 9PM ET.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream. Use code GLENN to save $10 on one year of BlazeTV.