Thanksgiving in American Memory features a timeline of historical events (beginning in 1541) that have produced the Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate today. Read the Continental Congress's proclamation (1782) recommending that "inhabitants of these states" observe a day of Thanksgiving. See anecdotes and recollections about attempts to celebrate Thanksgiving on the frontier in the 19th century. (Library of Congress)
Interesting fact: On September 28, 1863, magazine editor Sarah Hale wrote a letter to President Abraham Lincoln encouraging him to proclaim a national Thanksgiving Day. This was part of Hale's 17-year campaign to establish Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday. More of the Thanksgiving timline.