Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thanksgiving is an important holiday to me. It is important because I believe we are called to give thanks and glory to God for all the blessing which He has bestowed on us as individuals. But, I also think it is an important day to remember the role that a cultural belief in God has played in our nation's history. Thanksgiving is not a holiday that is relegated to the church calendar like Pentecost or Ascension Day. Rather, it is a national holiday that has been declared by some of our nation's greatest presidents.

Here is the text of President George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation from 1789:

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.

(signed) G. Washington