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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving 1862

Although the last Thursday of November wouldn't be set aside as a national holiday until 1863, the day was widely celebrated in the decade or so before, thanks in large part to the efforts of Godey's Ladies Book editor Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote scores of articles, petitions, and letters to officials promoting the idea of a second specifically American holiday (in addition to the 4th of July). In today's post we look back 150 years to an 1862 Thanksgiving celebration.

That year there had actually been an earlier national day of thanksgiving, proclaimed by President Lincoln in April in gratitude for Union military victories. Nonetheless, the November holiday was still celebrated. In this December 2, 1862 letter, Marianne Moore's great-grandparents Henry & Mary Warner describe their Thanksgiving, which they spent with their daughter Anne.

Moore VI-5-13 p1 Henry and Mary Warner to Children 12-2-62
Henry and Mary Warner, autograph letter signed to John Riddle Warner. Allegheny City [Pittsburgh], 2 December 1862. Moore VI:05:13

"On last thursday thanksgiving day Mother & I dined with Anne, we had a very nice young roast goose and a pair of chickens for dinner with all the et ceteras connected with such a meal, spent the afternoon there, took tea, and remained until bed time—kept worship at Annes request, during the afternoon and evening enjoyed ourselves much—after the old couple returned home, heated up the stove and returned to rest after we felt warm & comfortable—In the forenoon a student preached for us, he done his part well, the meetinghouse was comfortably heated, we hope the hearers acted their part as well as the preacher—the audience was not as large as it might, or ought to be, taking every thing into consideration—so ended thanksgiving day."

Happy Thanksgiving  from all of us at the Rosenbach.

Kathy Haas is the Assistant Curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog

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