The first thanksgiving is believed to have taken place in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. According to,

The newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered at Plymouth for an autumn harvest celebration.

Over 200 years later, the tradition made its way west to Iowa, first being proclaimed to take place in the Iowa territory some time between 1838 and 1841 by Governor Robert Lucas.

In 1841, territorial Governor John Chambers declared the first ever recorded Thanksgiving in Iowa history. Claiming December 12, 1844, as a day of thanksgiving.

Iowa was given it's official place in the Union as the country's 29th state in December of 1846. Ansel Briggs, Iowa's first governor after claiming statehood, signed the Thanksgiving Proclamation in November of 1847, slating November 25 of that year a day for giving thanks.

According to, Briggs had this to say, regarding the need to give thanks:

In conformity with an established custom in most of the States of our highly favored Union, and likewise having been requested to do so, from several portions of our State, I have thought proper to appoint Thursday, the 25th day of November, as a day General Thanksgiving and Praise to Almighty God, in the State of Iowa, and I do hereby recommend that all Christian denominations in the State meet together at their usual places of worship, and return thanks to the Great Disposer of events, for the manifold blessings which have been showered upon us during the last year.

The first national Thanksgiving was declared by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, four months after the Union's victory at Gettysburg. Lincoln saw the unifying potential of the holiday, and he placed it on the last Thursday in November.

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