George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

A blessed Thanksgiving to Observer




[New York, 3 October 1789]

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

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 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 which we experienced 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 enabled 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 hath 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 shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease 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 third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.


  1. George Michalopulos :

    Notice the closing statement: “…in the year of our Lord, 1789.” That’s patently Christian talk. For any secularist out there (like Christopher Hitchens or “Rev” Barry Lynn) who says that the Founding Fathers weren’t of a Christian mindset, search for that phrase in their writings. It’s everywhere.

    For proof that that is Christian phraseology, consider what these same people would do if a modern American politician used such talk: they’d go absolutely moonbat crazy.

  2. George: That type of ending was common convention then and I don’t think one can impute a “Christian” message in that regard. However, as we all know, “providence of Almighty God”, “great and glorious Being, who is the beneficient Author”, “great Lord and Ruler of Nations” are common in the parlance of those who built the Memorial Temple on the hill in Alexandria, Virginia that bears George Washington’s name. When Washington became President, he never did “cut the apron strings”, so to speak.

  3. George Michalopulos :

    Nick, absolutely right. My contention is not that the Founding Fathers were all “little-o” orthodox Christians but that they were all informed by a Christian and religious perspective. Actually, the overwhelming majority were orthodox Christians in the strictest sense of the word. Even the three “non-Christians,” Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and Benjamin Franklin, all believed in a life after death. They were what was called back then, “Deists.”

    My other contention is that none of these people would be immune from (or survive) a lawsuit served against them by the ACLU.

  4. cynthia curran :

    Also, Washington was known as the Cincinnatus of his cournty. And those of us that have interest in Roman history know that Cinncinnatus was only dictator for a short period to led the Romans against one of their Italian tribe enemies , perhaps this was the Veii around 458 b.c. Once the war was over he retired from the dictatorship and went to work on his farm. That’s a lot bette than much later dictators than Sulla and Julius Caesar. Sulla did retire but he proscripted his enemies. And he is also better than the Roman emperors or Eastern Roman emperors as well since he led down his power for the Republic.

  5. Just a tid bit of history: it turns out that the third generation Virginian who gave Washington his commission in the army was an Orthodox Christian:Phillip Ludwell III

  6. George Michalopulos :

    Isa, this is fascinating. What jurisdiction was he? 😉

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