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As It Was: Oregonians Get Thanksgiving Choice in 1893, 1894

George Washington proclaimed the first Thanksgiving in 1789 and Abraham Lincoln established in 1853 that Thanksgiving would be the last Thursday in November.

Things got complicated in Oregon in 1893 and 1894, when November had five Thursdays instead of the more common four.  Two days before President Cleveland was to make the traditional presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation, Governor Pennoyer proclaimed Oregon would celebrate Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 23, the fourth instead of the last Thursday of the month.  The president stuck to the last Thursday, or Nov. 30.

Oregonians found themselves facing two Thanksgiving Days. The state’s headstrong governor, politically opposed to Cleveland, refused to budge, a position greeted by derision across the country. 

Oregonians for the most part ignored Pennoyer’s proclamation, but government buildings were closed both days, and school closed only on the final Thursday.

The following year, November again had five Thursdays. Gov. Pennoyer insisted on celebrating on the fourth, leaving Oregonians to cope again with two Thanksgiving dates.

This year’s Thanksgiving is on Nov. 28, the fourth and final Thursday of the month.


Sources:  "Pennoyer's Folly: Two Thanksgivings for Oregon." Willamette Heritage Center, 16 Oct. 2016, www.willametteheritage.org › History Experiences; "The 2 Years Oregon Had 2 Thanksgivings." Arts and Life, OPB, 20 Nov. 2017. www.opb.org › thanksgiving-oregon-history-sylvester-pennoyer; "Thanksgiving 2019: Traditions, Origins & Meaning." HISTORY, https//: www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/history-of-thanksgiving; Pintarich, Dick. Great and Minor Moments in Oregon History. New Oregon Publishers, Inc., 2003, pp. 134-38.

Luana (Loffer) Corbin graduated from Southern Oregon College, majoring in Elementary Education.  The summer after graduation she was hired to teach at Ruch Elementary, where she taught for 32 years. After retiring, Corbin worked for Lifetouch School Photography and then returned to Ruch as an aide helping with reading instruction and at the library.  More recently, she has volunteered at South Medford High.