A Holiday to Give Thanks

President Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving as a national holiday in September 1863. Prior to that, the observance was sporadically celebrated, mainly in New England, as a day of feasting and merriment after the autumnal harvests. California was not yet a state when military governor General Bennett Riley proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving in November 1849 during the turbulence of the Gold Rush. It is unlikely, however,  that very many gold miners abandoned their prospecting to sit down to a groaning table.

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