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Published On: Mon, Nov 25th, 2013

George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

TND Exclusive:  By Victor Sayre | washington-praying

Thanksgiving fast approaches and I think it’s appropriate to remind ourselves how this national holiday was created.

The Founders of this nation had fought a bitter and bloody war to throw off abusive, tyrannical government. George Washington’s military had been repeatedly defeated in various engagements throughout the war and he had turned to God to pray for help more than once. After the ultimate success in securing independence as well as a form of government that would be so limited, so carefully defined in its powers as to be unable to repeat the mischief that had led to the Revolution, the Founders and the nation turned to God to give thanks for aiding them in this accomplishment.

The first national Holy-day, Thanksgiving, was created as an official day of prayer for the American People to join in giving thanks for the Revolution’s success. It is a spiritual and patriotic Holy-day, a reminder of the great suffering and losses endured by those who risked or lost all they had in the struggle. Let us reflect upon their purpose and their accomplishment this Thanksgiving, when we read aloud to our own gatherings the official prayer prepared for us by the first Congress and the first President, George Washington.

The proclamation appears below, as well as a copy of a newspaper printing from the period in the Massachusetts Sentinel.

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Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 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 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.

George Washington




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