‘Pennoyer’s Thanksgiving Howl’

Oregon Gov. Sylvester Pennoyer was at best eccentric, but the word cantankerous fit him better more often than not. After all, he was the creator of the “Two Thanksgivings” debacle http://tinyurl.com/turkeyduet.

On Nov. 1, 1893, he proclaimed that “a day of Thanksgiving” would be celebrated the fourth Thursday in November, Nov. 23. The announcement was actually a thinly disguised opportunity to publicly rant about the switch from silver to gold as the money standard.

Another reason for the announcement was pure spite. Pennoyer was jumping the gun while at the same time thumbing his nose at President Grover Cleveland who, on Nov. 3, announced that the national day of thanksgiving would be the fifth Thursday, Nov. 30. Which left Oregon with both a state and national official day of thanksgiving, to be celebrated a week apart.

The Daily Morning Astorian waxed apoplectic on Nov. 3, calling the governor’s proclamation “Pennoyer’s Thanksgiving Howl” and an example of his “freehand insanity” as “Czar of all the Oregons.”

Irritation with the defiant governor was shared in newspapers nationwide, but perhaps the New York Commercial Advertiser expressed it best: “Oregon’s annoying Pennoyer appointed Thanksgiving on a day separate from President Cleveland’s, and thereby recalled that colossal truth that it is more pitiful to be a fool than to be drunk. One may rally from the latter condition.”

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Daily Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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