The Cultural Landscape of Thanksgiving

In the years to follow the first Thanksgiving, the holiday was only sporadically recognized. The early presidents proclaimed days of Thanksgiving, but the federal government stopped recognizing the holiday in the early nineteenth-century. It was only in amidst the national disunity of the Civil War that Lincoln re-established the holiday as a means to reaffirm a sense of national unity. In this context, the story of the original Thanksgiving garnered new meaning, representing an ideal of people sharing a land together in spite of their differences.