Acknowledging the “signal favors of Almighty God” Washington’s First Proclamation
Dear Patients & Friends:
We have a long, rich tradition in America of giving thanks to God during this season. Of course we all know the Pilgrim story. And centuries later in 1863, a presidential proclamation was issued in the midst of the most terrible war ever fought by Americans. Just months after Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln spoke of our many blessings by God, and then called for the establishment of a national holiday for us to, "set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of "Thanksgiving."
Yet even before Lincoln established Thanksgiving as an annual national holiday, George Washington issued his first presidential proclamation. It seems that after establishing a constitution and prior to adjourning, Congress had asked our new president to establish a day of national thanksgiving. A few days later, on October 3, 1879, this is the introduction to his message to our new nation:
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:"
In naming Thursday, November 26, 1789 as an official holiday of "sincere and humble thanks", Washington began a long tradition for subsequent presidents. Let us never forget to remember to pray and be thankful that we live in a land where we are free to worship God. May you and your family be blessed this Thanksgiving,
Dr. Rob Leach
Printed version of the complete proclamation: http://wilstar.com/holidays/wash_thanks.html
From the National Archives: http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2010/nr10-25.html