Thanksgiving 1789


One hundred and ninety-nine years ago today our nation observed its first Thanksgiving under the Constitution. 

The Father of Our Country’s Thanksgiving 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 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 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.


 George Washington

Between the turkey and the games tomorrow, may we also find time to sincerely thank God in the spirit recommended by President Washington.

7 Responses to Thanksgiving 1789

  1. crankycon says:

    Separation of Church and State!

    Seriously, thank you for reprinting this.

  2. John Henry says:

    Thanks for posting this. Washington was probably the most explicitly religious of our early Presidents.

  3. Thank you Crankycon. As I am sure you agree modern court decisions on church state issues appear farcial to anyone who even has a cursory knowledge of the history of this country prior to 1960. I really sometimes wonder how the judges and justices handing them down can refrain from giggling as they engage in Alice-through-the-looking-glass jurisprudence.

  4. crankycon says:

    It’s doubly frustrating because Justices have relied upon not on something said or even implied in the Constitution, but on a letter written by a President who wasn’t even in the country when the Constitution and Bill of Rights were drawn up.

  5. Gerard E. says:

    Excellent words by our First President. Thanksgiving greetings to one and all.

  6. A Happy Thanksgiving to Gerard and to all!

  7. cminor says:


    And the point of the letter wasn’t even that religious belief had no place in the public square, but that government shouldn’t be able to interfere with religious practice.

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