When FDR Tried to Move Thanksgiving

When FDR Tried to Move Thanksgiving

This article was originally written by Pat Horan and posted at Realclearhistory.com.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s policies brought about a fundamental shift in America’s political landscape, but there were a few areas where he was not so successful in achieving permanent change. One of these areas was the Supreme Court. Another was Thanksgiving.

Since Abraham Lincoln, American presidents had declared Thanksgiving to be the final Thursday in November. Seventy-five years ago, in 1939, the holiday would have fallen on Nov. 30, an unusual fifth Thursday of the month. In those days, it was considered inappropriate to sell Christmas items before Thanksgiving, but with the late date, there would be less time for gift shopping.

Fred Lazarus, Jr., the founder of the Federated Department Stores (later merged with Macy’s), supposedly convinced FDR to move Thanksgiving a week earlier to extend shopping season in order to help merchants boost profits. Commerce Secretary Harry Hopkins also advised the president to change the date.

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