Subversive Historian – 11/26/08

The First National Thanksgiving

Two-hundred and nineteen years ago on this day in people’s history, the United States observed its first formal national Thanksgiving holiday. The date November 26th, 1789, was designated by President George Washington when he published the Thanksgiving Proclamation in the Massachusetts Centinel. President Washington was responding to Congress who sought a “Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer” to be “observed by acknowledging the favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.” Lord knows there have been enough subversive histories over the past months to construct a counter narrative to such grandiose notions of Thanksgiving but if more is needed consider the following: the second informal practice of thanksgiving day, which predated Washington’s Proclamation, came to celebrate a joint attempt by the Puritans and the Dutch to forcibly, not peaceably, remove of all indigenous natives from New England.

Now pass some truth with that gravy.


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