[Picture: Destitute pea pickers in California – The Great Depression]
In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that Thanksgiving would be the second-to-last Thursday of November rather than the last.
With the country still in the midst of The Great Depression, Roosevelt thought this would give merchants a longer period to sell goods before Christmas. Increasing profits and spending during this period, Roosevelt hoped, would aid bringing the country out of the Depression. At the time, it was considered inappropriate to advertise goods for Christmas until after Thanksgiving.
However, Roosevelt's declaration was not mandatory; twenty-three states went along with this recommendation, and 22 did not. Other states, like Texas, could not decide and took both weeks as government holidays.