Thanksgiving, 1789


If you want a clear example of how the authors of the US Constitution understood our government’s relationship to religion, look no further than the proclamation of a day of thanksgiving to God in 1789 by President George Washington. Here is his speech inaugurating this holiday (and yes, “holiday” is a derivation of “holy day”).

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 favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, 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 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 trangressions; 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 third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

—President George Washington

There are 13 comments.

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  1. MJBubba Inactive

    Thank you.

    • #1
  2. Underground Conservative Coolidge
    Underground Conservative

    Awesome. Thanks.

    • #2
  3. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane

    Good stuff.  Doesn’t get any better, unfortunately, the closer to now we look.


    • #3
  4. BrentB67 Inactive

    Are you telling me this nation was humble before God and thankful for His Providence and Blessings?

    Who woulda thunk it?

    • #4
  5. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche

    God bless America.

    • #5
  6. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT

    Mike LaRoche:God bless America.

    We can only pray that He will.

    • #6
  7. John Hendrix Thatcher
    John Hendrix


    Thank you, Aaron.

    • #7
  8. Don Tillman Member
    Don Tillman

    Well done, sir!

    Library of Congress reference here.


    • #8
  9. iWe Coolidge

    I am fond of pointing out that Thanksgiving became a regular holiday thanks to Lincoln’s action, in 1863, in the dark days of the Civil War. Giving “thanks” when things look bad is what it is all about.

    • #9
  10. Metalheaddoc Member

    Are you sure this was written by an American President? There is remarkably little use of “I, I, I, me, me, me” and there are no partisan attacks.

    They don’t make ’em like the original Dubya anymore, do they?

    • #10
  11. Pelayo Inactive

    The sad thing is that George Washington was free to thank God for the many benefits and providence He provided our Nation, yet today our football coaches are not allowed to thank God before or after a game.  We have allowed multiculturalism and secularism to erase the memory of where we come from as a nation.  I think this may be the greatest threat to the United States, not Climate Change as President Obama would have us believe.

    • #11
  12. Quietpi Member

    I heard a bit of Obama’s Thanksgiving message, not the whole thing, so I can’t categorically rule out him bringing up something else.  In what I heard, everything he mentioned we should be thankful for was something that the government is supposedly supplying us.  In other words, we should be thanking the gub’ment.

    • #12
  13. John Berg Member
    John Berg

    The next Republican president should issue the same Thanksgiving proclamation – word for word – on his (or her) first Thanksgiving in office.

    [Then watch liberals explain how GW’s words are an unconstitutional invocation of God]

    • #13

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