Thanksgiving 1940

The Pittsburgh Press (November 21, 1940)

Nation at Peace, Better Economic Conditions Cause Rejoicing
By the United Press

With fasting and prayer most Americans today gave thanks for a nation at peace, a nation in which the average citizen could rejoice in a more secure economic position and a more promising immediate future than at any time in the past decade.

Led by the nation’s first family, the people of 32 states joined in this Thanksgiving observance, a week earlier than the traditional last Thursday in November to which the six New England states and 10 others – including Pennsylvania, still clung, despite the proclamation of President Roosevelt.

The President and Mrs. Roosevelt hurried by train last night to their Hyde Park, N.Y., home for the holiday, just as thousands of others rushed by plane, train and auto to family dinners.

Dinner Costs Less

Diner, a United States survey showed, was to cost the average family slightly less than last year. The standard meal of turkey and the trimmings for a family of four was estimated at $4.33, as against $4.46 in 1939.

And turkey, a survey of economic conditions in the nation revealed, was expected to grace more tables than at any Thanksgiving within the last 10 years.

For the average citizen on this day enjoyed a better personal financial standing than in any year since the boom days of 1929.

Unemployment Declines

Six factors were seen as contributing to this improved status:

  • The nation’s vast industrial machine, speeded by defense production designed to make the United States secure against any threat from abroad, was operating at levels above the peaks of 1929.
  • Unemployment was declining slowly and steadily, with the prospect that by the end of 1941, fewer people would be without jobs than at any time in 10 years.
  • Wages, salaries and payrolls showed steady increases.
  • The cost of living thus far has shown little upward trend.
  • The total national income this year appeared certain to reach about $75 billion, the highest figure since the record of $82,885,000,000 set in 1929.
  • Savings deposits were the highest in the nation’s history.

Such considerations pushed into the background any fears of involvement in the wars of the world, any concern over the mounting national debt and other problems of the future.

The coming week was expected to see the start of a record Christmas shopping season. It was in order to aid business by lengthening the Yuletide buying period that the President last year for the first time moved the Thanksgiving holiday up a week.

Last year 26 states refused to fall in line. This year, in addition to the six New England states, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, South Dakota and Nevada clung to the traditional sate. Kentucky was to celebrate both Thanksgivings.

Hyde Park, N.Y., Nov. 21 (UP) –

President Roosevelt came home today to Hyde Park House to participate in a national prayer of thanksgiving that America has been spared the war that has brought “calamity and sorrow to most of the world.”

It was the second time in seven years and almost nine months of his Presidency that Mr. Roosevelt had failed to spend Thanksgiving Day at the Warm Springs, Ga., Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. In 1936, en route to open the Pan-American Conference in Buenos Aires, he spent the holiday aboard the USS Indianapolis off the “Hump” of Brazil.

This year, however, he explained that the critical state of world affairs precludes his traveling so far from Washington, and sent his friends at Warm Springs a telegram of regret.

Reflecting the critical war situation, Mr. Roosevelt’s Thanksgiving proclamation was more austere than those of previous years of his New Deal.

In a year which has seen calamity and sorrow fall upon many peoples elsewhere in the world may we give thanks for our preservation.

And, thanking God for the American heritage of “this good land” he repeated the prayer with which he concluded his final pre-election address to the nation on Nov. 4 – the night he rested his case for a third term. Beseeching preservation from “violence, discord and confusion,” he prayed:

Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues…

The holiday Mr. Roosevelt observed was America’s second on the controversial next-to-last Thursday in November. The wave of opposition last year which followed his shifting of the date had somewhat subsided, but Mr. Roosevelt gave no indication that he was aware that one-third of the states still were opposed to the new date he fixed.