George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

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In some locales, school children are told by their teachers that they must not mention God if they speak in class listing those things for which they are thankful. Elsewhere, the ACLU and other groups continue their battle to expunge all trace of religion from the public sphere.

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, it is worthwhile reading President George Washington's original Thanksgiving Proclamation, from the year 1789.

Once Thomas Jefferson became President, he discontinued the practice, deeming it too "kingly."

But in 1863, the author of "Mary Had A Little Lamb", Sarah Josepha Hale, suggested President Lincoln resume the tradition. And Lincoln did, choosing, like Washington, the fourth Thursday in November as the date. And all subsequent Presidents have followed suit——though FDR did briefly move it a week earlier to extend the holiday shopping period.

Lincoln, of course, was thinking about the terrible war that was going on. But he certainly also had an eye to the tradition of celebrating our Constitution, which is the wellspring of the liberties we enjoy. And so should we.

So when you raise your glass this Thursday remember to give thanks for our Constitution. George Washington wanted it that way.
—Steve Gilbert

George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving 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 favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable 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 transgressions; 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 show 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 3d dy of October, A.D. 1789.

(signed) G. Washington

In some locales, school children are told by their teachers that they must not mention God if they speak in class listing those things for which they are thankful. Elsewhere, the ACLU and other groups continue their battle to expunge all trace of religion from the public sphere.

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, it is worthwhile reading President George Washington's original Thanksgiving Proclamation, from the year 1789.

Once Thomas Jefferson became President, he discontinued the practice, deeming it too "kingly."

But in 1863, the author of "Mary Had A Little Lamb", Sarah Josepha Hale, suggested President Lincoln resume the tradition. And Lincoln did, choosing, like Washington, the fourth Thursday in November as the date. And all subsequent Presidents have followed suit——though FDR did briefly move it a week earlier to extend the holiday shopping period.

Lincoln, of course, was thinking about the terrible war that was going on. But he certainly also had an eye to the tradition of celebrating our Constitution, which is the wellspring of the liberties we enjoy. And so should we.

So when you raise your glass this Thursday remember to give thanks for our Constitution. George Washington wanted it that way.
—Steve Gilbert

George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving 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 favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable 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 transgressions; 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 show 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 3d dy of October, A.D. 1789.

(signed) G. Washington