The young nation was divided. The Black Friday purists who insisted on Black Friday sales not starting until the morning of Black Friday had been unable—or unwilling—to reconcile with the block of states who insisted on starting Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving, no matter how much cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie still lay uneaten on the table, or how many relatives still passed out on the couch.
Abraham Lincoln had run for President on the Purist ticket, and his very election brought the dispute to a fevered pitch. Shortly after his inauguration speech, in which the ol’ Turkey Splitter insisted that he had “no intention” of interfering with the institution of big box stores, the “Target” states, as they came to be known, declared their secession from the Purists and went back to greasing the wheels of their shopping carts.
Lincoln, seeing secession as unacceptable, and worrying that all the stove pipe hats would be gone from the shelves by the time Mary Todd hit the aisles at 5 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving, ordered the Union army to stop the Target States of America from seceding. The Union had more ammunition, more railroads, and more coupons from Bed Bath & Beyond which were used to equip the soldiers with much needed towel warmers and memory foam slippers. But the Target States had a passion for shopping and a general dislike of family events and an army of stock boys armed with box cutters ready to meet the Union forces.
The war dragged on and Lincoln needed a solution. He had a meeting planned that morning with Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War, and Lincoln paced his lanky frame about the Oval Office, preparing himself. He tugged at his beard. Mary Todd had wanted him to shave it for the holidays. Said it was too scraggly.
“Over my dead body,” Lincoln said to himself, and double-checked the bowl of candy on his desk. Yes, there were plenty of green apple Jolly Ranchers.
“I don’t think there’s any other way out of this war than to strengthen the blockade of the stores,” Stanton said, tugging at his own scraggly beard. “They’ve pushed us to this point, and there’s no way I’m missing the Cowboys game to go shopping.”
Lincoln thought about it, tugging at his scraggly beard again. The two men tugged at their scraggly beards.
“Violence is not the answer,” Lincoln said at once. “I should know. I used to hunt vampires.”
“But without violence, I won’t have a job,” Stanton said. “How are you going to keep those Target States from being open on Thanksgiving without violence?”
Lincoln crossed his long legs, and leaned forward, and rested his chin in the crook between his thumb and forefinger.
“I’m going to make a speech,” he said, and, dismissing the Secretary of War, went to go sharpen his pencil.
The next day President Lincoln stood before a crowd in Leesburg, Virginia, known for its many outlet stores, and gave what would become known as the Leesburg Address.
“Four score and seven years ago,” he began, “I received a gift card to a well-known retailer, and now the retailer is telling me that the card has expired.
“But that is all past. We are now engaged in a great civil war over whether it is proper that stores open for Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving. It is not a question of whether a nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that it is never too early to start Christmas shopping, can long endure the helpings of turkey and inappropriate questions from distant relatives, like ‘When are you two getting married?’ or ‘Don’t you think it’s time to do something with your life?’ or ‘Why can’t you put that device down when I’m talking to you?’
“Rather, the question is whether one can really call it Black Friday if it starts on Thursday.”
The crowd stood stunned. Abraham Lincoln had once again spoken an incontrovertible truth. It was impossible to have Black Friday on Thanksgiving, which had always been a Thursday, and always would be a Thursday. And until everyone recognized that truth, the civil war would never end.
So the name was changed to “Black Thursday,” and the stores offered turkey sandwiches and cranberry sauce at the register, and the States were once again United—now and forever, one and inseparable!