As part of my Homeschooling through the Holiday’s, I love to share with my children historical information surrounding each holiday. For Thanksgiving, I love to share the story of the pilgrims as well as read the all the different Thanksgiving proclamations declared since the founding of our nation.
From time to time over the almost 240 years since our nation was founded, various presidents (and congresses) of the United States have issued proclamations declaring Days of Fasting and Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving and Prayer. Yes, there has been more than just the one made by President Lincoln back during the civil war creating the national holiday as we know it.
I especially love President George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation back in 1789. After a resolution of Congress, President George Washington declared Thursday November 26th 1789 to be a day of public “Thanksgiving and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God”
Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
I love this reminder that our nation was set up under God from the very beginning. It is not just important that we as citizen acknowledge this. We need to take the time to thank Him for all He has done for us (individually and as a people).