Howard County Times
Howard County

Coolidge proclaims Nov. 24 as Thanksgiving Day in 1927 [History Matters]

50 Years Ago

St. John's College, etc.


"American Legion Talk At Jessup Woman's Club

"Featured speaker at the October meeting of the Jessup Woman's Club was 1st Sgt. Russell Walters, State Police, Waterloo Barracks, who gave a talk on the American Legion and the work it does.


"The first post was established by veterans of WWI in Paris, France.  Sgt. Walters explained that one of the important functions of the American Legion is to teach Americanism and especially to the youth of our country. In many of our states, this is being done by our teaching young people how to govern and how to be governed. In other words, a state is created and governed by youth. Usually we speak of this as Boys State and Girls State. Here in Maryland Boys State is held each year at Univ. of Maryland; Girls State meets at St. John's College, in Annapolis."

St. Johns, or the Great Books college, has been the alma mater of many well-known people. Counted among them, is Francis Scott Key, author of the "Star-Spangled Banner."

Key was a lifelong friend of Daniel Murray, who also attended St. Johns. Murray's family lived at Rockburn, the estate next to Belmont in Elkridge, and the lifelong friends would often visit each other's homes.

I bother to mention Key's authorship of the "Banner" because  I'm finding that some people, especially those hailing from other parts of the country, don't know who wrote the nation's anthem or much about its history. But once informed, they find the story fascinating, in particular because the poem turned anthem wasn't inspired sitting at a desk, but as history was unfolding in that war that came to Fort McHenry.

The British burning D.C. the month before, in August 1814, set the stage making the battle in Baltimore a decision maker. Key, a civilian on an enemy ship, watched as the curtain of night lifted to discover whether that huge flag was still there, whether or not the country survived. That's why the first line of his poem is a question: "Oh say can you see by the dawn's early light what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?"

Though the War of 1812 was a big deal in Baltimore and D.C., the war's battles were not limited to this region but battles took place in several states and over a two year period.

November 1927

Silent Cal proclaims


In the Times:

"President's Proclamation Names November 24 Thanksgiving Day:

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"President Coolidge's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation this year calls on the people of the country to set aside November 24 as a day of thoughtful and prayerful consideration of the 'manifold blessings' which have come to them during the past year. The text of the proclamation follows:

'Under the guidance and watchful care of a divine and beneficient Providence this country has been carried safely through another year. Almighty God has continued to bestow upon us the light of his countenance and we have prospered. Not only have we enjoyed material success but we have advanced in wisdom and in spiritual understanding.'

"The products of our fields and our factories and of our manifold activities have been maintained on a high level. There has been advancement in our physical well-being. We have increased our desire for the things that minister to the mind and to the soul. We have raised the mental and moral standards of life."

President Calvin Coolidge was noted to be a man of few words, hence his moniker, Silent Cal.


November 1889

Crowd of politicians

"A sale of Mr. Walter Dorsey's at Crooksville a few days ago, was the occasion of a possibly accidental gathering of county politicians of both parties. They numbered both successful and defeated candidates and the latter, figuratively speaking 'shouldered their crutches, fought their battles o'er again, and showed how fields were lost and won.'  Old scores were settled, misunderstandings adjusted and political accounts balanced to date. It was in fact, a sort of political clearing house in which individual interests were pooled and a general average struck. The result will be interesting when compared with the settlement after the next election."