Always a pleasure to get a history lesson from Bill Kauffman. A couple of snippets:
It seems that in 1939 Thanksgiving was to fall on November 30th, a matter of consternation to the big merchants of the National Retail Dry Goods Association (NRDGA). The presidents of Gimbel Brothers, Lord & Taylor, and other unsentimental vendors petitioned President Roosevelt to move Thanksgiving to the previous Thursday, November 23, thus creating an additional week of Christmas shopping—and to the astonishment of those Americans without dollar signs in their eyes, the President did so. (Not all merchants favored the shift. One Kokomo shopkeeper hung a sign in his window reading, “Do your shopping now. Who knows, tomorrow may be Christmas.”)
Opinion polls revealed that more than 60 percent of Americans opposed the Rooseveltian ukase; dissent was especially vigorous in New England. The selectmen of Plymouth, Massachusetts informed the President, “It is a religious holiday and [you] have no right to change it for commercial reasons.” Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks to the Almighty, harrumphed Governor Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts, “and not for the inauguration of Christmas shopping.”
Twenty-three states celebrated Thanksgiving 1939 on November 23, and another 23 stood fast with November 30. Two states, Colorado and Texas, shrugged their shoulders and celebrated both days—Texas did so to avoid having to move the Texas-Texas A&M football game.
Bill's article is at Front Porch Republic
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