Happy Thanksgiving! We are taking tomorrow off to spend quality and quantity times with our families. We will see you bright and early on Friday.
Delaware native President Rutherford B. Hayes and Lucy Hayes were certainly no strangers to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Originally, Thanksgiving Day commemorations were declared on a state-by-state basis, and so varied from date to date and from one year to another. Even though President James K. Polk hosted the first such dinner at the White House, it was during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln that a national celebration was established, the President declaring in October the last Thursday in November to be that date.
The Hayes’ first Thanksgiving in the White House was celebrated on November 29, 1877.
According to the White House Historical Association, on that date “A large Thanksgiving dinner gathering nclujded Preisdent Rutherfor B. Hayes and First Lady Lucy Hayes, Colonels W.K. Rogers and O.L. Pruden, the president’s private secretaries, and William H. Crook and Charles L. Chapman, executive clerks, and the doormen with their families. Afterwards, the dinner party gathered in the Red Room to play games with the children and listen to Mrs. Hayes play the piano.”
At the time of the Hayes’ last Thanksgiving in the White House in November 1880, the First Family held a dinner honoring President Elect James A. Garfield and his wife Lucretia. A magnificent dinner service — perhaps the most elaborate and renowned in White House history — was used.
While the number of dishes was astounding, with over 560 pieces in 130 designs, it was the subject matter for which the service is known. All feature flora and fauna of the United States.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, one of the centerpieces was the magnificent turkey platter with upturned edges, seen here, and featuring a turkey standing in the snow. Made by the Haviland Limoges company, a version of this platter recently sold at auction for over $18,000.
Governor and then President Rutherford B. Hayes issued nine Thanksgiving proclamations in his lifetime, five in Columbus and four in Washington, D.C..