Thursday, November 28, 2019

Should Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving?

By Robert Wenzel

There is a narrative going around, largely promoted by the shady left, that Thanksgiving is a day Americans celebrate to mark the cooperation between Pilgrims and American Indians.

In his most recent Bloomberg column, Tyler Cowen promotes this theme:
American Thanksgiving is typically seen as a celebration of the cooperation between the English who settled the continent and the natives who helped them grow crops and saved them from starvation. It is a story about how multicultural cooperation and private-property incentives, both strong American principles, can boost a harvest.
And apparently influenced by shady leftists about Thanksgiving, Cowen heads into this holiday with a feeling of  guilt and hopelessness:
[A]s Thanksgiving 2019 approaches, I am struck by another lesson: America’s need to come to terms with a history that, as it relates to the treatment of Native Americans, has remarkably few heroes on the side of the white settlers... A place you love — for me, the United States — can also be a country that in some crucial ways has had very few good guys, at least once you take all of the issues into account. That counsels skepticism about today’s heroes, because it suggests that a near-universal moral failing just might be in our national DNA.
Cowen's view is total 100% coprolite.

As I have warned:
The favorite tactic of the modern-day shady left is to find something that was done wrong in the past, focus on it and claim that it is the root of everything since. They tie past and present together in a way they claim can never be separated...
Their focus is always on an evil event, long in the past, that occurred during a period of relatively free markets. A scarlet letter of the evil event is pushed on all of us for all time by the shady left, even when it has nothing to do with us.
Notice how Cowen's guilt matches completely with what I report the modern-day shady left is up to. "A near-universal moral failing just might be in our national DNA"? That's total shady left propaganda.

Thanksgiving has very little to do with cooperation between new American settlers and American Indians.

The idea of thanksgiving traces back to England, long before the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth, when days were marked to celebrate a successful harvest, good weather or a military victory. Indians also had their separate thanksgiving like celebrations pre-Pilgrims, such as the Green Corn Ceremony, which is still celebrated by some Indians.

The Pilgrim's first official Thanksgiving was in 1623 to celebrate a rainfall that saved their harvest. Later in the 1600s a specific day annually was set aside for a "day of thanksgiving."

The first thanksgivings in America were much more intertwined with government and religion than in the current day.

Under New England law, days of Thanksgiving with treated like the Sabbath--as days of rest. Work and entertainments were banned. Violators faced fines and other punishments.
In 1696, and unlucky man by the name of William Veazie, a church warden in  Hough Neck Massachusetts - now part of the City of Quincy, near Boston - was charged with failing to properly observe a day of public thanksgiving. According to court records on the morning of that day, Veazie was seen at his farm plowing a field of corn “with Indian boy and Two horses.”. He pleaded guilty and was fined ten pounds.
That wasn’t all. The court further sentenced Veazie to “be set in the pillory in the market place in Boston to morrow about noon, there to stand by the Space of an Hour.”
Pillorying an offender in the heart of the city at the busiest time of the day sent a potent message to all who passed: Respect Thanksgiving Day.
Once the United States was established, the idea of thanksgiving day being declared by government became controversial. George Washington did so by proclamation. But Thomas Jefferson objected. When he became president, Jefferson declined to issue a thanksgiving proclamation. He felt the federal government had no right to declare such a holiday.

When Jefferson left office, James Madison assumed office, he returned to issuing such a proclamation. After Madison, no President issued a Thanksgiving proclomation until Abraham Lincoln.

From Lincoln on, every president has done so.

 Lincoln's 1863 proclamation set Thanksgiving as regular commemoration each year on the last Thursday of November.

The first to mention "settlers" in a proclamation was Theodore Roosevelt in 1905.

It had nothing to do with co-operation:
The custom grew of setting apart one day in each year for a special service of thanksgiving to the Almighty for preserving the people through the changing seasons.
During the FDR administration, the actual day of recognition of  Thanksgiving was changed for commercial reasons.

In 1939, the last Thursday in November fell on the last day of the month. Concerned that the shortened Christmas shopping season might dampen the economic recovery, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a Presidential Proclamation moving Thanksgiving to the second to last Thursday of November. As a result of the proclamation, 32 states issued similar proclamations while 16 states refused to accept the change and proclaimed Thanksgiving to be the last Thursday in November. For two years two days were celebrated as Thanksgiving - the President and part of the nation celebrated it on the second to last Thursday in November, while the rest of the country celebrated it the following week.
To end the confusion, Congress decided to set a fixed-date for the holiday. On October 6, 1941, the House passed a joint resolution declaring the last Thursday in November to be the legal Thanksgiving Day. The Senate, however, amended the resolution establishing the holiday as the fourth Thursday, which would take into account those years when November has five Thursdays. The House agreed to the amendment, and President Roosevelt signed the resolution on December 26, 1941, thus establishing the fourth Thursday in November as the Federal Thanksgiving Day holiday.
That wasn't the end of Thanksgiving Day controversy.

Kirkpatrick writes:
Thanksgiving Day football games are almost as old as the national holiday itself. The first Intercollegiate football game took place in 1869 - Princeton vs Rutgers in New Brunswick, New Jersey--and Thanksgiving Day football games began a few years later. On November 30th 1873 Princeton and Yale faced off in Hoboken New Jersey, in a Thanksgiving Day championship game. It was a success and the game moved to New York City a few years later.
The Yale - Princeton Thanksgiving game in New York quickly became immensely popular, with attendance catapulting from5,000 spectators in 1882 to 40,000 in the 1890s. The game was just not an athletic contest. It was Major social event which all levels of New York Society - old and young, male and female, rich and poor - took part...

Not everyone approved this this new tradition of Thanksgiving Day football even [Richard Harding] Davis who had described the festivities withapparent delight believed that New Yorkers obsessed with football obscured the significance of the day. As recently as ten years earlier, Thanksgiving "was an event of moment in meaning" he wrote. Now the holiday is centered on "twernty-two  very dirty and very earnest young men were trying to force a leather ball over a whitewashed line." The New York Herald took a similar anti-football theme lamenting that "no longer is the day one of Thanksgiving to The Giver of all good. The kicker now is king and the people bow down to him."...
The Princeton vs. Yale game in NewYork was a catalyst for the creation of popular audience for Thanksgiving football
It was the number one athletic event of the Season at numerous colleges. Notable Thanksgiving Day rivalries began around the time included University of Michigan versus University of Chicago, Howard University versus Lincoln University and Stanford versus the University of California-Berkeley. a.k.a., the Big Game...
Thanksgiving football also caught on at high schools and local athletic clubs. Team scheduled their seasons around Thanksgiving, playing the season championships on the holiday...
By the time professional football leagues  rose around the turn of the 20th century, Thanksgiving football was as well established tradition. For the pros hosting a Thanksgiving game was a no-brainer.
And so, like much of life, the Thanksgiving Day tradition has evolved. It is much different now than it was in 1696. No one is sentenced to “be set in the pillory in the market place"  for working on Thanksgiving rather than watching football games. But the Thanksgiving tradition was not started in 1621, when American Indians and Pilgrims got together. They both already had longstanding traditions of celebrations (and thanks) for good harvests, general plenty etc.

That is what was celebrated by both and still is by both. The issue of the American Indian Wars is complex one. Taking that apart and analyzing it properly could go a long way toward getting to the core of what is morality, decency and civilization. But the wars have nothing, zero, to do with Thanksgiving.

Throughout the Thanksgivings, it has always been about man giving thanks for plenty in what can be a harsh world.

The American Indian Wars are a separate matter. The shady left wants to mix the two because that is what they do when it comes to all history and culture of Western Civilization. They take an issue that is far from the core of a fundamental thread of civilization and try to make it the epicenter. Because their goal is the total destruction of current society.

They are not interested in thanksgiving, recognizing what man has achieved, or for that matter, they are not interested in American Indians, they are interested in the attack on everything that is good about America.

And yet, while they make these shady connections, they will deny that attempts at socialist central planning governments are what was behind such ruthless mass murderers as Lenin, Mao, Stalin and Hitler.

This is their game, the lies, the twists and the distortions. Don't let them do it to Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving, at its core, remains about the celebration of good and family and civilized effort to make the world a better place. We should never allow this type of holiday to be wrestled away from us by those who are willing to distort, intimidate and coerce all of us.

Wishing you all a Very Happy Thanksgiving!

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.comand Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bankand most recently Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. More about Wenzel here.


  1. Excellent post Robert. Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving, Target Liberty and EPJ being 2 things I am thankful for.

    1. Ditto. All the best RW, EPJ, EPJ Daily, and Target Liberty.

  2. Amen. I am thankful for EPJ and Target Liberty as well. Happy Thanksgiving to my private property society people.

  3. Excellent post.

    The "evil in the DNA" and the problem of the moment to worry about is the tens of millions slaughtered by socialists. Where is the drive to ban their evil symbols (and them) from society?

  4. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours Robert. Many thanks for all you do.

  5. Cowen suffers from presentism.

  6. Cowen needs to read “Conceived in Liberty”. Not that he would want to know true history, but there were some “good guys” that I’m sure he has never heard of. And women too. Anne Hutchinson comes to mind.

  7. May you enjoy your holiday RW all the best

  8. RW, I'm forever thankful the kick ass White Europeans who conquered this land and developed it into something useful. I would even throw Spaniards into that mix; the Spanish ranchers and impresarios did a lot to develop the American Southwest.

    White Europeans have been and always will be superior to other cultures and races.

  9. I lament the fact that so much in this country is politicized. If people want to get together with their families and friends to "give thanks," then they can always do so. But why do we have to have the national government set aside a specific day? The only good thing about the politically directed Thanksgiving is that (much of) the government is closed.