General Thanksgiving (see original document)
By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America
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 favour; and Whereas both Houfes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requefted me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING 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 eftablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness:"
NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and affign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of thefe States to the fervice 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 fincere and humble thanksfor His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the fignal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpofitions of His providence in the courfe and conclufion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have fince enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to eftablish Conftitutions of government for our fafety and happinefs, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are bleffed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffufing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleafed to confer upon us.
And also, that we may then unite in moft humbly offering our prayers and fupplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and befeech Him to pardon our national and other tranfgreffions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private ftations, to perform our feveral and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a bleffing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wife, juft, and conftitutional laws, difcreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all fovereigns and nations (especially fuch as have shewn kindnefs unto us); and to blefs them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increafe of fcience among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind fuch a degree of temporal profperity as he alone knows to be beft.
GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand feven hundred and eighty-nine.
(signed) G. Washington
Source: The Massachusetts Centinel, Wednesday, October 14, 1789
While there were Thanksgiving observances in America both before and after Washington's proclamation, this represents the first to be so designated by the new national government.
After their first harvest, the colonists of the Plymouth Plantation held a celebration of food and feasting in the fall of 1621. Indian chiefs Massassoit, Squanto and Samoset joined in the celebration with ninety of their men in the three-day event.
The first recorded Thanksgiving observance was held on June 29, 1671 at Charlestown, Massachusetts by proclamation of the town's governing council.
During the 1700s, it was common practice for individual colonies to observe days of thanksgiving throughout each year. A Thanksgiving Day two hundred years ago was a day set aside for prayer and fasting, not a day marked by plentiful food and drink as is today's custom. Later in the 18th century each of the states periodically would designate a day of thanksgiving in honor of a military victory, an adoption of a state constitution or an exceptionally bountiful crop.
"Consent of the Governed" wishes you and yours a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!
Even with all of the problems we face, we are very fortunate to live in a country of such bounty and opportunity. May we all continue to work to preserve liberty and freedom so that our Republic and its people can prosper through life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We should take some time at Thanksgiving to take stock of that which is good and positive in our lives as well as that which needs to be attended to or changed.
My thoughts and prayers go out to our soldiers who are unable to be with their families this holiday season, and my hope is that they will be kept out of harm's way and that they will return home to stay real soon.
I also hope that each and every one of you will also be protected from the financial turmoil which now plagues our nation, and that if you are touched by unemployment, financial hardship, and other difficult life lessons, that you weather it and emerge from it stronger. Please try to remember that really the most important thing is our family and friends and the caring and love that we give and receive. If we don't have anything else, we have each other. In the end, there is no difference between the poor man and the rich man when they return to dust, but what makes the biggest difference is what we do with our lives when we walk this Earth. Let's take the time to celebrate not so much what we have in "stuff", but the strength and quality of our relationships with one another, and to thank whatever higher power that each of us may believe in, for all the goodness that we individually enjoy in our life.