Is Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday or the Last Thursday of November?

A Random Thanksgiving Fact:

This year Thanksgiving Thursday falls on November 23, 2017, but did you know that Thanksgiving wasn’t always the fourth Thursday of November? Occasionally November has five Thursdays. This year is one such year.

Another November with five Thursdays happened in 1876. Wyoming was still a territory. Secretary of the Territory George W. French, who was serving as acting governor at the time, issued a proclamation in accordance with President Ulysses S. Grant to designate Thursday, the 30th day of November, 1876 as a day of Thanksgiving.

A document from 1876 declaring that Thursday, November 30, 1876 would be Thanksgiving. The proclamation was issued by acting territorial governor George W. French. The proclamation states that President Ulysses S. Grant had declared the day to be Thanksgiving and goes on to state that the people of Wyoming have many reasons to be thankful for.

1876 proclamation issued by acting territorial governor, George W. French, declaring Thursday, November 30, 1876 Thanksgiving. From the AHC subject file: Proclamations.

In 1923 there were five Thursdays yet again and Thanksgiving fell on November 29th.  President Calvin Coolidge issued a proclamation for the holiday.

Newspaper clipping from November 7, 1923 that reports on President Coolidge's Thanksgiving Proclamation. The Proclamation discussed the death of President Harding and a Japanese earthquake as difficulties the nation faced in 1923. The Proclamation then outlined reasons for the U.S. to be thankful including material prosperity and the tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving. The Proclamation also designated Thursday, November 29, 1923 as Thanksgiving for that year.

Newspaper article reporting on President Coolidge’s 1923 Thanksgiving Proclamation that designated November 23, 1923 as Thanksgiving and outlined some of the reasons for the U.S. to be thankful that year. Clipping is from an unidentified newspaper; from the AHC subject file: Proclamations.

as did Wyoming’s governor William B. Ross.

Newspaper article that contains the text of Wyoming Governor William B. Ross's 1923 Thanksgiving Proclamation. Ross mentioned tragedies at the Frontier Mine and a railroad wreck near Casper as tragedies from the past year. He then outlined reasons why the people of Wyoming should be thankful. Ross affirmed that President Coolidge had designated Thursday, November 29, 1923 to be Thanksgiving and encouraged the people of Wyoming to take the day off to celebrate. Ross signed the proclamation on November 14, 1923.

Newspaper article that contains the text of Wyoming Governor William B. Ross’s 1923 Thanksgiving Proclamation. Ross affirmed that November 29, 1923 was declared to be Thanksgiving by President Coolidge and encouraged the people of Wyoming to take the day off to be thankful. From an unidentified newspaper; from the AHC subject file: Proclamations.

Which is it? The fourth Thursday or the last Thursday? It wasn’t until 1941 when Congress passed a law ensuring that all Americans would celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

-Meghan Monahan, Accountant

This entry was posted in Holidays, Politics, Wyoming history and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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