On This Day

“Twas the Night Before..”

Today, in 1823, a newspaper published what some now call the most well-known poem ever written by an American.

But who REALLY wrote it?

On This Day

“We know not who we are indebted for the following description of that unwearied patron of children – that homely but delightful personification of parental kindness – Santa Claus…but, from whomever it may have come, we give thanks for it.”

Troy Sentinel, the weekly newspaper that published, "ACCOUNT OF A VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS" on Dec. 23, 1823. At the time, the author remained a mystery, and in some ways, still is.
On This Day

Clement Moore

  • Born into a prominent New York family.
  • Reportedly penned the poem on Christmas Eve in 1822, while on the way home to see his 6 children.
  • Clue: Said to have a Dutch sleigh driver the night he composed the poem.
  • A professor & scholar, some suggest he was embarrassed by the playful poem, which is why he stayed anonymous.
  • Published poem under his own name in 1844 – 20 years after first published.
On This Day

Henry Livingston, Jr.

  • Prominent Dutch farmer in upstate New York, served in Revolutionary War.
  • His family (children), and others, say they heard him recite the poem YEARS before it was published.
  • Clue: Original reindeer names “Dunder & Blixem” translate to “Thunder” & “Lightening” in Dutch. Later edits changed to German “Donder & Blixen.”
  • Never took credit for the poem; Died 5 yrs after the poem was first published.
On This Day

Why It Matters

“Though legend has it that Santa Claus hails from the North Pole, he was actually a New Yorker…”

The poem’s author solidified the image of Santa and his reindeer for the newly formed United States (& beyond), and has continued to do so for the last *nearly* 200 years.

On This Day

How did the paper get the poem? Another mystery. The paper wrote on that day: "We hope our little patrons, both lads and lasses, will accept it as proof of our unfeigned good will toward them—as a token of our warmest wish that they may have many a merry Christmas."

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