So, you're all ready to celebrate Thanksgiving today? Don't thank South Carolina. When the idea was first floated during Washington's presidency, it was the representatives from South Carolina who spoke out against it. Apparently we've always been against government telling us how to feel:
Rep. Aedanus Burke of South Carolina objected on the grounds that a Thanksgiving was too European. He "did not like this mimicking of European customs, where they made a mere mockery of thanksgivings."
Rep. Thomas Tudor Tucker, also of South Carolina, raised two further objections. "Why should the President direct the people to do what, perhaps, they have no mind to do?" he asked. "If a day of thanksgiving must take place," he said, "let it be done by the authority of the several States."
Tucker's second reservation had to do with separation of church and state. Proclaiming a day of Thanksgiving "is a religious matter," he said, "and, as such, proscribed to us." The Bill of Rights would not be ratified until 1791—but Congress had just approved the wording of First Amendment, and that debate was fresh in everyone's mind.
From Melanie Kirkpatrick of the WSJ. Whole article here.