Cheryl Anne Stapp
President Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving as a national holiday in September 1863. Prior to that, the observance was sporadically celebrated, mainly in New England, as a day of feasting and merriment after the autumnal harvests. California was not yet a state when military governor General Bennett Riley proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving in November 1849, during the turbulence of the Gold Rush. It is unlikely that very many gold miners sat down to a groaning table, even if they had moved into town for the winter.