Freedom Action Now

The First Thanksgiving Proclamation

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In 1777, the Continental Congress issued the first Thanksgiving Proclamation. Here are a few exerpts:

FORASMUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God;
to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received,
And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence;
That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor;

… to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December…

under the Providence of Almighty GOD,…

The next proclamation came the next year:

It having pleased Almighty God, through the course of the present year, to bestow great and manifold mercies on the people of these United States;
and it being the indispensable duty of all men gratefully to acknowledge their obligations to Him for benefits received:

…to appoint Wednesday, the 30th day of December next, to be observed as a day of public thanksgiving and praise …

Another year, another proclamation (1779):

Whereas it becomes us humbly to approach the throne of Almighty God,…

… appoint Thursday, the 9th of December next, to be a day of public and solemn thanksgiving to Almighty God …

In 1780:

By the United States in Congress assembled.
Whereas it hath pleased Almighty God, the Father of all mercies, …

set apart Thursday, the seventh day [of December next,…

In 1782:

By the United States in Congress assembled.
It being the indispensable duty of all nations, not only to offer up their supplications to Almighty God,…

the last Thursday, in the 28 day of November next,…

Other proclamations each year, and in 1784, the Revolutionary War ended:

By the United States in Congress assembled.
Whereas it hath pleased the Supreme Ruler of the universe, of his infinite goodness and mercy, …

… a Definitive Treaty of peace between the said United States of America and his Britannic Majesty, was signed at Paris, on the 3d day of September, in the year of our Lord 1783;…

…the citizens of the United States have the greatest reason to return their most hearty and sincere praises and thanksgiving to the God of their deliverance; whose name be praised:

Finally, we get to George Washington, the first President:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God,…

…a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God,

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November …

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…
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 …

Washington again, in 1795:

…to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experience.

… set apart and observe Thursday, the 19th day of February next
as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, and on that day to meet together and render their sincere and hearty thanks to the Great Ruler of Nations
at the same time humbly and fervently to beseech the kind Author of these blessings

Do you notice a trend there?

Skip ahead to President Lincoln, in 1863:

They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

In 1939, November had five Thursdays, and the country was in a depression. FDR figured that moving the Thanksgiving holiday back a week would give business a longer shopping period, so he proclaimed the fourth Thursday:

I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Thursday, the twenty-third of November, 1939, as a day of general thanksgiving.

Let us, on the day set aside for this purpose, give thanks to the Ruler of the Universe for the strength which He has vouchsafed us to carry on our daily labors and for the hope that lives within us of the coming of a day when peace and the productive activities of peace shall reign on every continent.

This was not well-received.

Thanksgiving was not a national holiday, [FDR] noted, meaning that it was not set by federal law. According to custom, it was up to the president to pick the date every year.
“Plymouth and Thanksgiving are almost synonymous,” intoned the chairman of the town’s board of selectmen, “and merchants or no merchants I can’t see any reason for changing it.”
College football coaches also objected. … By 1939 Thanksgiving football had become a national tradition.
It wasn’t long before people started referring to Nov. 30 as the “Republican Thanksgiving” and Nov. 23 as the “Democratic Thanksgiving” or “Franksgiving.”
The early Thanksgiving had been an “experiment,” he said, and the experiment failed….
in 1942 Thanksgiving would revert to the last Thursday of the month. This was “the first time any New Deal experiment was voluntarily abandoned,” a Washington Post columnist wrote.

On Dec. 26, 1941, Roosevelt signed a joint resolution passed by Congress making Thanksgiving a national holiday and mandating that it be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.

Skip ahead to President Obama’s proclamation for 2009:

What began as a harvest celebration between European settlers and indigenous communities …
We also recognize the contributions of Native Americans, who helped the early colonists survive their first harsh winter and continue to strengthen our Nation.

I encourage all the people of the United States to come together, whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place where family, friends and neighbors may gather, with gratitude for all we have received in the past year; to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own; and to share our bounty with others.

This marks the first time in American history that a President does not directly mention God, either directly or indirectly:

Even President Bill Clinton affirmed in his first such proclamation that, “From the beginnings of our Nation, we have sought to recognize the providence and mercy of God with words and acts of gratitude,” and called the spirit of Thanksgiving “acknowledging God’s graciousness.”


Written by freedomactionnow

November 24, 2010 at 11:58 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

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