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How did Thanksgiving become an official holiday?

Most of what we know about Thanksgiving, was recorded from way back, and comes from William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth, Massachusetts, at the time. In Of Plymouth Plantation, a manuscript he wrote, we learn about a fateful feast from the fall of 1621 along with his journey to the New World, settling in Plymouth, and other events from that period.

By 1789, the “thanksgiving” tradition was still not a holiday. Bradford’s manuscript with the actual accounts of that first Thanksgiving had yet to be published, so there was little public interest in the entire thing. And while it’s reported that George Washington called for a “national thanksgiving” on the last Thursday of November that year, a declaration like that essentially amounted to a nice, thoughtful idea.

Sarah Josepha Hale

It wasn’t until the diary made its way to the hands of magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale in the 1800s that things began to take shape. Passed down through generations and across centuries, it finally landed in her lap…and Hale was allegedly so moved after reading about the first Thanksgiving dinner that she began a serious letter-writing campaign, urging not one, not two, but five American presidents to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. She never gave up, and eventually lucked out with none other than Abraham Lincoln.

As the Civil War raged on, Lincoln believed that Thanksgiving might help to unite the divided country. He declared it a national holiday in 1863 and kept Thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November. Washington’s idea was finally brought to life, and it was at this time that Thanksgiving became a bona fide official holiday on the American calendar.

“Be Generous with Gratitude, for it is Contagious.”

Today—and every day— we are grateful for the trust you place in our team.  We wish you love and laughter this Thanksgiving season as you make new memories with your friends and families.

November 2022

Keith Albritton 

Keith Albritton

Keith earned a B.S. in Finance from the University of Florida in 1991, and was a four-year letterman on the UF golf team that won two SEC championships and more than 12 team titles.

He joined Allen & Company in 1996 as a Financial Advisor. Keith is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and Certified Investment Management Analyst®.
He holds both the Series 7 and 24 registrations with LPL Financial, and Series 66 with both LPL Financial and Allen & Company. Keith also holds the Life, Health and Variable Annuities insurance licenses.