A Thanksgiving Proclamation

President George Washington declared November 26th, 1789, the fourth Thursday of November, to be celebrated as a day of American thanksgiving.

Try to imagine how much Americans of 1789 had to be thankful for.

Just six years earlier they had fought and won a war for their independence, to create their own country.

Just two years earlier they had adopted a Constitution, which stands today.

Just eight months earlier they had elected their first president, a great general who had led them to their victory for independence.

Today, we give thanks to President George Washington and those Americans of 1789. Nothing we do today, 229 years later, can even begin to compare with what they did.

Here are Washington’s words. We should read them often.


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 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 which we experienced 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 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 hath 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 shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord

—to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease 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

President of the United States


3 thoughts on “A Thanksgiving Proclamation

  1. What does the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” have to do with Thanksgiving? Here’s a timeline of how Thanksgiving became a holiday in the US. (link: http://cnn.it/2jRFtRZ) cnn.it/2jRFtRZ (my relative Sarah Buell Hale…long ago but the story of a women’s advocacy)


  2. Thank you, Jim! Very few people know about George Washington’s Declaration. It wasn’t taught to me when I went through public school. We are to believe that the Founding Fathers were deists – that the Creator leaves it totally up to us to make things happen.

    George Washington prayed and fasted his way through our fight for Independence. There were many miraculous occurrences which cannot possibly be attributed to human wit and logic.


  3. Yeah, ummm.. It was people that made this country happen. And every country for that matter. Prayer may have made them feel good and believe in their cause, but had nothing to do with the outcome.


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