1902 Thanksgiving Proclamation Act

President Teddy Roosevelt signing the Thanksgiving Proclamation Act in 1902. President Franklin Roosevelt (Teddy was his cousin and Eleanor's uncle) moved Thanksgiving from the last Thursday of November to the fourth Thursday of November in 1939 to give Americans more time to shop for Christmas!

The text of the Proclamation:

According to the yearly custom of our people, it falls upon the President at this season to appoint a day of festival and thanksgiving to God. Over a century and a quarter has passed since this country took its place among the nations of the earth, and during that time we have had, on the whole, more to be thankful for than has fallen to the lot of any other people. Generation after generation has grown to manhood and passed away. Each has had to bear its peculiar burdens, each to face its special crisis, and each has known cares of grim trial, when the country was menaced by malice domestic or foreign levy, when the hand of the Lord was heavy upon it in drought or flood or pestilence, when in bodily distress and in anguish of soul it paid the penalty of folly and a froward heart. Nevertheless, decade by decade we have struggled onward and upward; we now abundantly enjoy material well-being, and under the favor of the Most High we are striving earnestly to achieve moral and spiritual uplifting. The year that has just closed has been one of peace and of overflowing plenty. Rarely has any people enjoyed greater prosperity than we are now enjoying. For this we render heartfelt thanks to the giver of Good; and we will seek to praise Him, not by words only, but by deeds, by the way in which we do our duty to ourselves and to our fellow-men.
Now, wherefore, I, Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, do hereby designate as a day of general thanksgiving, Thursday, the twenty-seventh of the coming November, and do recommend that throughout the land the people cease from their ordinary occupations, and in their several homes and places of worship render thanks unto Almighty God for the manifold blessings of the past year.
In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington, this twenty-ninth day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and two, and of the Independence of the United States the one hundred and twenty-seventh.
Date & Place:
Oct 27, 1858 - Jan 6, 1919
Updated Nov 21, 2018

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Did you know that next Thursday, the 29th, used to be Thanksgiving? This is a photo of Teddy Roosevelt signing the Thanksgiving Proclamation Act in 1902, when it was the last Thursday in November.
Nov 21, 2018 · Reply
Debra Addison
Would like to hear answers too . Very interested in knowing how everyone feels .
Nov 21, 2018 · Reply
Clicking on the link tells you why - and what I find interesting is that a small change, meant to help the economy, has lead to a more materialistic Christmas holiday . . .
Nov 21, 2018 ·
Debra Addison
Nov 21, 2018 ·
Ree Young
236 favorites
AncientFaces I don't know if it led to a more materialistic Christmas. I remember when Christmas shopping did not start until after Thanksgiving...stores didn't put up decorations and have sales, cities didn't put up the lights along the streets, and people didn't put up decorations on their homes until after Thanksgiving. This was in the late 1940 and well into the 1950s and later. That was traditional. The churches didn't decorate until the start of Advent.

While moving the Thursday gave people more time because, back then, there were the Blue Laws...stores were not open on Sundays. Maine was the last state to repeal its Blue Laws, and that was in 1990.

And most stores had closing times around 7 or 8 p.m. in the 1950s. 24-hour stores were extremely rare. Even the 7-Eleven convenience store was ope just form 7 a.m.to 11 p.m. Many shoppers only had weekends available to shop, and shift workers didn't always get home from work during the week until after stores had closed.

So, back in Roosevelt's time, the change of Thanksgiving did give people more time to shop. But that didn't follow that they got more materialistic.

Looking back over the decades, I think the cult of consumerism had its beginnings after WWII when the economy began booming. People started having more expendable income, and many things that were not available during the war years were now out there...bigger cars, more televisions, more"modern" items.

Sprinkle on a very hefty dose of corporations seeing a a golden opportunity to make huge profits. The advertising geniuses were pushing out ads that promised not just more convenience items to give us more leisure time, not just more symbols of a luxurious lifestyle (even if we couldn't afford it and used credit like there was no tomorrow), but a promise of happiness that could be achieved by having more, more, and more.

Most holidays have been swallowed up by that now. Barbecues, hours of football, Easter egg hunts, toys, gifts, one day a year to remember moms and dads and the rest of the year ignore them unless you need to borrow money or need an unpaid babysitter...

I don't know if we'll ever get the holidays back to their real meanings.😢
Nov 21, 2018 ·
Catherine Satula
For retailers.
Making shopping season longer.
Nov 21, 2018 · Reply
Bill Wodenhelm
And before that, each state had its own Thanksgiving, as the states didn't have quite as much to do with each other.
Nov 22, 2018 · Reply
Barrett Young
285 favorites
Joe Wiegand
Nov 22, 2018 · Reply
Opie Catt
23 favorites
I'm still confused...
Nov 22, 2018 · Reply
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