In 1936 Governor Wilbur L. Cross penned what is widely regarded as one of the most lyrical Thanksgiving Proclamations ever written. A former English Professor and Dean of Graduate Studies at Yale, Cross was elected as Connecticut’s 71st Governor in 1931. He served four terms and was defeated by Raymond E. Baldwin in 1938.
While the 1936 Thanksgiving Proclamation is a familiar piece today, in years past some of the other Thanksgiving Proclamations were equally well known. A Hartford Courant editor wrote in 1968 that “…the late Wilbur Lucius Cross in 1935 issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation that remains one of the classics of American prose.” His 1931 proclamation was noted for being one sentence of 176 words. He was quoted in a November 6, 1936 Hartford Courant article as having said “I wrote the proclamation in one sentence so that it would have to be quoted in full, if at all.”
It was his 1938 proclamation however that is a real treasure, as he was filmed reading it on December 9, 1938. It was the first time a Connecticut Governor had ever appeared in a sound film.
The Connecticut State Library is proud to bring you that historic film and all eight of Governor Cross’s official Thanksgiving Proclamations. The film can be viewed on our YouTube channel and the proclamations can be viewed in our Flickr collection.
On behalf of the staff and board of the Connecticut State Library, Have a Happy Thanksgiving!