In 1864 the Union League decided to raise a fund to supply Thanksgiving dinner on November 24, 1864 for the Union soldiers and sailors fighting in the East. The reaction of the Northern public to this plan was overwhelming. over $56,000 in cash was raised, an enormous sum at the time, 250,000 pounds of fowl, and enormous contributions of foodstuffs of every type. The Union soldiers and sailors loved their feast and the reminder that they had not been forgotten by the folks back home. For Confederate soldiers, on starvation rations, there was of course no feast, a fact underlining the overwhelming tragedy of the Civil War. Here is the Union League appeal which was printed in the New York Times on November 8, 1864. Note that Theodore Roosevelt, the father of the future president of the same name, is the Treasurer:
The undersigned, a Committee appointed at a meeting held at the Union League Club House, appeal to the people of the North to join them in an effort to furnish to our gallant soldiers and sailors, a good Thanksgiving dinner. We desire that on the twenty-fourth day of November there shall be no soldiers in the Army of the Potomac, the James or the Shenandoah, and no sailor in the North Atlantic Squadron who does not receive tangible evidence that those for whom he is periling his life, remember him. It is hoped that the armies at the West will be in like manner cared for by those nearer to them than we. It is deemed impracticable to send to our more Southern post.
To enable us to carry out our own undertaking, we need the active cooperation of all loyal people in the North and East, and to them we confidently appeal. We ask primarily for donations of cooked poultry and other proper meats, as well as for mince pies and for fruit. If any person is so situated as to be unable to cook the poultry or meat, we will receive it uncooked. To those who are unable to send donations in kind, we appeal for generous contributions in money. Will not every wife who has a husband, every mother who has a son, every sister who has a brother, serving in the armies or navies of the Union, feel that this appeal is to her personally, and do her part to enable us to accomplish our undertaking? Will not all who feel that we have a country worth defending and preserving, do something to show those who are fighting our battles that they are remembered and honored?
We will undertake to send to the front all donations in kind that may reach us on or before Nov. 20, and to see that they are properly and equally distributed. They should be wrapped in white paper boxes, and addressed to GEO. W. BLUNT, Getty’s Building, Trinity-place, New-York. If uncooked, it should be so marked on the outside of the box, and a list of the contents should accompany the- box. Poultry, properly cooked, will keep ten days. None should be pent which has been cooked prior to Nov. 14. Uncooked poultry or meat should reach us on or before Nov. 18, that it may be cooked here.
Contributions in money should be sent to THEODORE ROOSEVELT, Treasurer, No. 94 Maiden-lane, or to any member of the Committee.
The time is short, and we trust no one will wait to be personally solicited. Will not some person in every city and town of the North and East, volunteer, however, to canvass his own city or town?
The American, Adams, Harnden, United States, National, Kingsley, Hope and Long Island Express Companies, have generously offered to transmit to this city, free of charge, all boxes addressed as above, and it is not doubted that other express companies will do the same.
Executive Committee. — Charles H. Marshall, George W. Blunt. Stephen Hyatt, Jackson S. Schultz, Parker Handy, Levi A. Dowley, Theodore Roosevelt, George Bliss, Jr., Jonathan Sturges, Le Grand B. Cannon. William E, Dodge, Horace Greeley, Wm. Lee, William C. Bryant, Rush C. Hawkins, Henry J. Raymond, A.R. Wetmore, W.G. Lambert, T.R, Butler, Timothy G. Churchill, Thomas H. Faile. George C. Ward, Thomas D. Dale, W.R. Vermilye, John D. Jones, Francis M. French, Edward Walker, Robert Bliss, John E. Williams, E. Nye.
Chairman. — Charles H. Marshall.
Chairman of Executive Committee. — Geo. W. Blunt.
Treasurer. — Theodore Roosevelt.
Secretary. — George Bliss, Jr.