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Thanksgiving: A Yankee Abolitionist Holiday


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Thanksgiving: A Yankee Abolitionist Holiday

By Diana Karter AppelbaumNovember 22, 2022Blog

From the book, Thanksgiving: An American Holiday, An American History (Facts on File, 1984).

The long-standing practice of delivering political sermons on Thanksgiving Day, which made Thanksgiving both a revolutionary holiday and the occasion of Federalist era political contention, now made Thanksgiving the tool of free-soilers and abolitionists. Thanksgiving was, above all, a New England holiday, and New England was abolitionist territory; but the association was broader than this.

 Thanksgiving as Politics in the North

  Throughout the middle and western states, Thanksgiving was taken to heart by those same evangelical Protestant denominations that made abolition a religious cause. Antislavery and abolitionist positions were the political beliefs of a small group of citizens in colonial America and during the early years of the republic; but in the 1830s and 40s, antislavery sentiments became an article of faith for northern Protestants, causing denominations to split into northern and southern branches. Many ministers who preferred to deliver strictly spiritual sermons on the Sabbath felt impelled to speak out against the evils of slavery on Thanksgiving.:snip: 

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