Today in history... Roosevelt changes Thanksgiving

Whatever solutions politicians have used to deal with economic crises, present and past, changing the date of Christmas hasn't been one of them.

The same can't be said of Thanksgiving, an annual tradition in the United States since 1863.

Since the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, the occasion had always been celebrated on the final Thursday of the month.

But, on this day in 1939, President Franklin D Roosevelt sealed the deal so that, from then on, the fourth Thursday of the month would instead be Thanksgiving.

At the time, the US was still enduring The Great Depression. Roosevelt decided that an earlier Thanksgiving would give merchants a longer period to sell goods before Christmas: increasing profits and spending during this period, to help the country's economic woes.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Roosevelt didn't issue a stamp to commemorate the event.

As many philatelists will already be aware, FDR remains one of history's most famous and dedicated stamp collectors - a passion he maintained throughout his presidency.

"Stamp collecting dispels boredom, enlarges our vision, broadens our knowledge, makes us better citizens and, in innumerable ways, enriches our lives, he once said.

Earlier this year, Roosevelt's life-long dedication to philately was exhibited at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum, in New York.


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