November 24, 2010 | Source: Monroe Gallery of Photography
Alfred Eisenstaedt: Old African American sharecropper Dave Alexander saying his evening prayers as he kneels at bedside at home, Mississippi, 1937
From Sarah Josepha Hale, "Editor's Table," Godey's Lady's Book, 1858
OUR NATIONAL THANKSGIVING
"All the blessings of the fields,
All the stores the garden yields
All the plenty summer pours,
Autumn's rich, o'erflowing stores,
Peace, prosperity and health,
Private bliss and public wealth,
Knowledge with its gladdening streams,
Pure religion's holier beams --
Lord, for these our souls shall raise
Grateful vows and solemn praise."
Alfred Eisenstaedt: Delta and Pine Company African American sharecropper Lonnie Fair and his family praying before having their meal. From an assignment for a test issue of Life magazine, 1936.
"We are most happy to agree with the large majority of the governors of the different States -- as shown in their unanimity of action for several past years, and which, we hope, will this year be adopted by all -- that the LAST THURSDAY IN NOVEMBER shall be the DAY OF NATIONAL THANKSGIVING for the American people. Let this day, from this time forth, as long as our Banner of Stars floats on the breeze, be the grand THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY of our nation, when the noise and tumult of wordliness may be exchanged for the laugh of happy children, the glad greetings of family reunion, and the humble gratitude of the Christian heart. This truly American Festival falls, this year on the twenty fifth day of this month.
Let us consecrate the day to benevolence of action, by sending good gifts to the poor, and doing those deeds of charity that will, for one day, make every American home the place of plenty and of rejoicing. These seasons of refreshing are of inestimable advantage to the popular heart; and if rightly managed, will greatly aid and strengthen public harmony of feeling. Let the people of all the States and Territories sit down together to the "feast of fat things," and drink, in the sweet draught of joy and gratitude to the Divine giver of all our blessings, the pledge of renewed love to the Union, and to each other; and of peace and good-will to all men. Then the last Thursday in November will soon become the day of AMERICAN THANKSGIVING throughout the world."
Sarah J. Hale (1788-1879)