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George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

George Washington Praying at Valley Forge

George Washington was such a great man and I am honored to live in a nation that was founded by men such as he. I love to look back on our history and imagine a nation that would have heard these words and agreed, wholeheartedly. The uncommon amount of  intellect and honor and heroic feats found in the men who began this nation is not lost on me, especially in comparison to our modern leaders. I cannot help but point to their faith as the great dividing factor between who they were, what they envisioned, and where we stand today.

I have emphasized the many references to God in his address below. Notice how Washington doesn’t thank the soldiers, or the men and women of the new nation, because this is a day of thanks giving to God and God alone. We tend to be grateful on Thanksgiving rather than thankful; grateful for our dinner, our freedom, our family (sometimes), our stuff…but are we just glad we have things or are we giving thanks? And, to whom should we give thanks for all of our many blessings? Washington, and the people of our newly formed nation knew exactly Who they should thank. Do we?

I hope you are as moved by these words from George Washington as I am. Happy Thanksgiving!

george washington thumbnail“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 3rd day of October, A.D. 1789.” – President George Washington

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