This post was originally published on: November 26, 2015
Happy Thanksgiving from the Marshall Foundation!
Recent media attention has commended stores for staying closed on Thanksgiving and for promoting time with friends and family.
Seventy years ago, economic activity was on the mind of President Franklin Roosevelt. In 1939 he wanted to spur spending and moved the Thanksgiving celebration up a week to extend the shopping period before Christmas. While several states followed FDR’s lead, others balked, and 16 states refused to honor the calendar shift, leaving the country with dueling Thanksgivings. Faced with increasing opposition, Roosevelt reversed course just two years later, and in the fall of 1941, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution returning the holiday to the fourth Thursday of November.
In November of 1941, Marshall wasn’t worried about the economic activity of the country. He was most concerned with the recent birth of a grandson, James J. Winn, Jr. He wrote his step-daughter Molly about his plans for the upcoming holiday:
“Your mother greatly appreciated your writing the day after your ordeal. Whatever effort you gave to the letter was much repaid by calming down her various fears.”
He continued, “The plan is for me to leave her there and return to the maneuvers in North Carolina and then to spend Thanksgiving with the Stettiniuses and possibly bring your mother back Saturday or Sunday. However, the crisis in the coal strike, Japanese negotiations, and the probability that I will have to appear before Congress on a six or seven billion dollar deficiency appropriation Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday threatens to cancel all my pleasurable plans. In addition, I am under the necessity of getting down to the maneuvers.”
He closes the letter with “my love and an urgent desire to see the baby.”