A Day of Gratitude

Before George Washington declared a holiday to give thanks, people in New York celebrated the Constitution's ratification with a parade.

MPI/Getty Images

Thanksgiving was originally made a national holiday with the intention of giving very specific thanks -- for the country's new constitution. President George Washington issued the proclamation in 1789, calling upon the people to acknowledge:

"… a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Finally, staying power …