The First "General Thanksgiving"

Category: Americas, Life & Society Topics: Thanksgiving Views: 4086

This proclamation was issued by George Washington during his first year as President. It sets aside Thursday, November 26 as "A Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer." It was signed by Washington on October 3, 1789 and entitled "General Thanksgiving."

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 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 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.

G. Washington

 

NOTE: Shortly after the Thanksgiving Proclamation was written, it was lost for 130 years. The original document was written in long hand by William Jackson, secretary to the President, and was then signed by George Washington. It was probably misplaced or mixed in with some private papers when the US capitol moved from New York to Washington, D.C. The original manuscript was not placed in the National Archives until 1921 when Dr. J. C. Fitzpatrick, assistant chief of the manuscripts division of the Library of Congress found the proclamation at an auction sale being held at an art gallery in New York. Dr Fitzpatrick purchased the document for $300.00 for the Library of Congress, in which it now resides. It was the first official presidential proclamation issued in the United States.

 

Reference: Archiving Early America

 


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  5 Comments   Comment

  1. Saeed Khan from USA

    If this speech can be certified authentic, then it should be widely circulated. I think it is a beautiful speech and should be included in school curriculum.

  2. Mohammad Yacoob from USA

    Voluntary Islamic Thanksgiving Prayer - Los Angeles Times

    Nov 22, 2001 ... Los Angeles Times Articles ... In the last 20 years, I have started celebrating Thanksgiving in a very unique ... Mohammad Yacoob. Hawthorne ...

    articles.latimes.com/2001/nov/22/opinion/le-sau22_2.1

    Voluntary Islamic Thanksgiving Prayer

    November 22, 2001

    I came to the United States in 1962. My father, an army contractor who had worked with the British army in India, told me to go to Oxford or Cambridge, but I decided to come to California. This is because of the speech made by Vice President Richard Nixon in 1957 in Bangalore in south India. During the speech he mentioned that Bangalore reminded him of California. I decided to come to California.

    In the last 20 years, I have started celebrating Thanksgiving in a very unique way--an additional way. To give thanks to God, I perform two units of voluntary Islamic prayer, either on Thanksgiving Day or on Friday, in the morning, afternoon or evening. Since this is not a compulsory or mandatory Islamic prayer, I choose the day and the timing. This year, I have decided to perform four units of Thanksgiving prayer, to thank God more for the good life my family is enjoying in these United States. I will pray to God to bless America, humanity and our spaceship, the Earth. May God give us the strength to fight terrorism, intolerance and hate crimes.

    Mohammad Yacoob

    Hawthorne

  3. Romesh Chander from USA

    George Washington said "...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...".

    Frankly, I find it against the concept of separation of Church and State. There should be no Thanksgiving proclamation by the president or any other governmental body. I have been in US for 51 years now, and have never reconciled to government issuing a Thanksgiving proclamation. Oops, currently I am an atheist too; though 51 years ago, I was not one.