Honorable Fred P. Cone
It may also be said that in such event the Legislature realized the possibility of the President and Governor setting apart different days as Thanksgiving Day.
If it can be said that the Legislature envisioned such a contingency, it seems reasonable to conclude that since only one day was intended as the legal holiday, the Legislature intended to give preference to the day first in order of designation, that is, the day set apart by the President.
This is so because the day has been observed as a day when all the people of the Nation are supposed to turn aside from other affairs and give thanks in acknowledgment for the blessings received during the year.
In other words, it was intended and has been observed as a national holiday rather than local, and because the President of the United States is the official head of the Union comprising the forty-eight States, it is reasonable to assume that the Legislature intended the day set apart by him as Thanksgiving Day to be the legal holiday, and that only in event the President should fail to set apart a day as Thanksgiving Day, that then the day set apart by the Governor of the State should be the legal holiday.
To hold otherwise would lead to confusion, since National agencies would observe one day and State agencies a different day. It may also be said that if the Legislature intended to give preference to the last Thursday in November because of precedent, it would have been easy to so designate that particular date, and to have precluded any question as to what day shall be the legal holiday as Thanksgiving Day.
State Archives of Florida: Series 368, Box 91, Folder 5
Attorney General George Couper Gibbs advising the governor as to which day of the year Thanksgiving should fall on. The attorney general states that the day proclaimed by the president is the legal holiday.
October 6, 1939
Gibbs, George Couper, 1879-1946
Depression Era Florida (1926-1940)
In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a proclamation moving the Thanksgiving holiday from the last Thursday of November to the second to last Thursday of the month to extend the holiday shopping season. The holiday was changed from November 30, the last day of the month, to November 23. Thirty-two states issued similar proclamations, but 16 states refused to make the change. Florida Governor Fred P. Cone decided not to move the date forward and left the holiday on its traditional day. The governor's decision received both praise and opposition, with many wanting to keep with tradition, while others criticized the governor for creating confusion throughout the state. Many Florida organizations chose one date to celebrate the holiday, while others recognized both days as Thanksgiving. The dispute remained unresolved in 1940 and 1941. The issue was finally settled on December 26, 1941, when President Roosevelt signed a joint resolution declaring the fourth Thursday in November as the Federal Thanksgiving Day holiday.