Thanksgiving Financial Trivia

*Which U.S. President was the Father of Black Friday?
Exodus 10:15 “For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field………”

No, this Bible verse was not describing throngs of Black Friday shoppers busting through the mall doors just hours after Thanksgiving dinner, but it sure sounds like it! Yes, Black Friday is coming soon.

Have you ever asked yourself why the fourth Thursday of the month is set aside for Thanksgiving? President Abraham Lincoln was the first to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 and it was celebrated on the last Thursday in November. But it was Franklin Roosevelt who set the date as the fourth Thursday of November. What was his motivation for changing the date? Franklin Roosevelt wanted to kick off the holiday shopping season earlier in order to stimulate more spending during the Great Depression. His decision was at first unpopular with Congressional leaders who mockingly referred to Thanksgiving as "FranksGiving". However, Roosevelt's plan worked and we now have throngs of shoppers kicking off the holiday shopping season just hours after Thanksgiving dinner.

*Travel: AAA projects 43.6 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Source

*The cost: The American Farm Bureau Federation says that in 2001 a family's Thanksgiving meal cost $35.04. A 10-person Thanksgiving feast costs $50.99 in 2012, compared with $49.38 in 2011. Source

*The Pilgrims: America has historical roots as a nation of debt. The original colonists arrived in America in debt from the cost of their travel. They agreed to send goods back to England to repay their burdens. In 1641, the pilgrims consolidate their debts into four annual payments to a London creditor. The interest rates on these obligations were often between 30-70%. One way to make money was to send Indian arrows that had been shot at them, but missed, back to Europe for sale as "curiosities".

*The very first ship to come visit the Pilgrims was the Fortune, and it dropped off 35 people. The Pilgrims sent back cargo of timber, beaver skins, and sassafras worth $2,500. Unfortunately, this ship was captured by the French while on its way to England and all goods were taken. Miles Standish, captain of the Pilgrims By John Stevens Cabot Abbott page 107

*In order to finance their trip and new life, the Pilgrims asked some London merchants to invest in the colony they would create.

*70 merchants decided to form a joint stock company with the Pilgrims. Each adult Pilgrim was issued one share of stock in the company, in essence, making them investors.

*Making money in colonies required a lot of money to begin with, more than even the richest aristocrats or merchants had. So they banded together into “companies,” pooling their capital until they had enough to fund a large and potentially profitable project.

*We know that the merchant adventurers invested between £1200 and £1600 before the Mayflower sailed.

*The Pilgrims planned to engage in businesses such as lumbering and fishing, sending wood and fish to England to be sold.

*Beginning in 1628, the Pilgrims were to pay the merchants £200 a year until they had paid £1800.

*However, with the extra money invested in the struggling little colony, the debt may have been as high as £7000.

*One way the Pilgrims paid off their debt was by sending beaver furs back to England. Source  Source

*Sometime in the fall of 1621, the Puritans invited their Indian friends to join them in a three-day festival which we now call the first Thanksgiving. Source

*The First American Money: Pilgrims used quahog shells called "wampum" for currency. In fact, Harvard College would accept wampum for tuition payments in the 1640′s. Wampum shells were recognized as official currency in America for over 80 years. A variety of crops and furs and coins from other countries were also used.

*A five dollar Federal Reserve Note was issued in 1914 that carried a scene featuring the landing of the Pilgrims. Source

*To commemorate the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620, a special half-dollar was authorized by the U.S. Congress on May 12, 1920. Source

*The Turkeys: $5.7 million dollars worth of live turkeys are imported to the US each year. 95% of those turkeys come from Canada. Most of our sweet potatoes come from the Dominican Republic.

*$1.38: Retail cost per pound of a frozen whole turkey in December 2010.

*About 280 million turkeys are sold annually for Thanksgiving, which is about 7 billion pounds of turkey and over $4 billion in sales. $4.1 billion: Forecast 2010 receipts to farmers from turkey sales. This exceeds the total receipts from sales of products such as barley, oats, sorghum (combined) and peanuts.

*931 million pounds: Total production of pumpkins produced in the major pumpkin-producing states in 2009. Illinois led the country by producing 429 million pounds of the vined orange gourd. Pumpkin patches in California and Ohio also provided lots of pumpkins: Each state produced at least 100 million pounds. The value of all pumpkins produced by major pumpkin-producing states was $103 million. Source

*The Shopping: The National Retail Federation reports that in 2010 some 138 million Americans, about 4 million more than last year, will brave the crowds to shop on Black Friday or on the following weekend. Source Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, but it isn’t actually the biggest. The top shopping day of the year for retailers is usually the last Saturday before Christmas.

*On November 26, 1789, Present George Washington issued a general proclamation for a special day of thanks. Source

*President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November, 1863 as "A day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficient Father." Source


Not even Pilgrims are free from money problems. Check out these legal and monetary records of Pilgrim Edward Doty: Source
1632/3 Sued by Joseph Rogers, failed to pay a contract with six pigs, as had been agreed. Rogers won.
1632/3 Sued by William Bennet for dealing fraudulently in a trade of bacon for beaver skins. Bennet won.
1633 Sued by William Bennet for slander. Doty fined 50 shillings.
1633/4 Sued by his apprentice John Smith to be freed from his 10-year contract. Court agreed, and required Doty to give him double payment in apparel for having given so little to his apprentice.
1633/4 Fined 6 shillings 8 pence for "breaking the peace", and awarded Josias Cooke 3 shillings 4 pence because Doty caused him to bleed during their fight.
1634 Doty sued Francis Sprague over a debt: Doty won 6 shillings 6 pence, plus a peck of malt.
1636 Edward Doty and Joseph Beedle sue and counter-sue for "matters beign raw and imperfect" and were sent to an arbitrator.
1637/8 Fined 10 shillings for breaking the peace, by assaulting George Clarke.
1641 Sued George Allen. Reason and outcome unrecorded.
1641/2 Sued Thurston Clarke. Doty awarded 12 bushels and 1 peck of Indian corn, and 12 shillings money or an additional 4 bushes of corn, plus 11 shillings for charges. John Jenny then entered an attachment to receive 31 shillings 6 pence from Clarke before it was paid to Doty, of which the court ordered him to then pay Doty five and a half bushels of Indian corn and 3 pence to settle the account.
1641/2 Court orders Edward Doty to keep his two cows and a steer fenced in during the summer, or pay Thomas Symons for all damage caused by his cows in Symons' cornfield.
1641/2 Sued George Clark. Doty awarded four bushels of Indian corn.
1643 Doty ordered to pay five bushels of Indian corn to John Groome, for Manessah Kempton's use.
1647 Samuel Cutbert sued Edward Doty for taking wood from his land. Doty ordered to pay 7 shillings damages plus court fees.
1650 Edward Gray and Samuel Cutbert sue Edward Doty for damage done by his cows to their corn. Doty ordered to pay 1 bushel of Indian corn to each.

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