Thanksgiving is a United States holiday known for his turkey, pumpkin pie, football games, extensive travel, and bringing together families and friends.
The holiday has long had a religious component, as seen through the words of past presidents who have issued proclamations declaring dates to be Thanksgiving.
Here are passages from five notable Thanksgiving proclamations issued by the likes of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and other former commanders-in-chief.
George Washington (1789)
While serving as the first president of the United States of America, George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation in American history.
Washington issued the proclamation on Oct. 3, 1789, declaring Thursday, Nov. 26 of that year to be set aside as a day of Thanksgiving, specifically “to the service of that great and glorious Being.”
“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,” read Washington’s 1789 proclamation.
“… 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.”
Abraham Lincoln (1863)
During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation on October 3, 1863 establishing every last Thursday in November as “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy,” stated the proclamation.
“I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1939)
In 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued a Thanksgiving proclamation that designated the fourth Thursday in November for the holiday.
This broke with the previous tradition of the last Thursday being set aside for the observance and was initially controversial. Later in 1941, the United States Senate approved the change.
“As a Nation we are deeply grateful that in a world of turmoil we are at peace with all countries, and we especially rejoice in the strengthened bonds of our friendship with the other peoples of the Western Hemisphere,” stated Roosevelt’s proclamation.
“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.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski