As we enjoy our traditional Thanksgiving feasts this year, let us reflect on the sentiments expressed by our first Congress and president, George Washington, on the occasion of the proclamation of our first national DAY OF PUBLIC THANKSGIVING AND PRAYER:
“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 favour; 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 PUBLICK 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 eſtablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness:’
NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and aſſign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH 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 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 favours 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 publick 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 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, one thousand ſeven hundred and eighty-nine.”
(Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789)