The year that is drawing towards its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to invite and provoke the aggressions of foreign States, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
The needful diversions of wealth and strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship. The axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battlefield; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people; I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to our beneficent Father, who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him that, for such singular deliverances and blessings; they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.
By the President: William H. Seward, Secretary of State.
Taken from WallBuilders.com
One hundred and fifty years ago, George Washington, the first president of the United States, issued his first Thanksgiving proclamation, at the request of the first United States Congress during the first year under a constitutional government.
He designated the last Thursday in November as the day for Thanksgiving, which happened to fall on the 26th in that year.
The preamble sets forth that “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.”
In the body of the proclamation, after recounting the blessings for which the people should return thanks, President Washington further states the purpose of the day, “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 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 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.”
In the spirit of Washington and our first national Thanksgiving, I proclaim the traditional last Thursday of the month, Nov. 30, 1939, as a legal holiday in North Carolina and a day of general Thanksgiving upon the part of all the people. It is fitting and proper that we assemble in our special places of worship on this dedicated day to renew our allegiance to the ideals of the republic, to reconsecrate ourselves to the causes of popular government, to acknowledge afresh our dependence upon God, to rekindle our faith in the everlasting spiritual values, to hearken to the high call of duty in loyal and patriotic service, to thank a Supreme Ruler for state unity and national peace, to pray for peace universal and for an end to war and bloodshed all over the good earth.
In witness whereof, I, Clyde R. Hoey, governor of North Carolina, have signed and caused the Great Seal to be affixed hereto, in our City of Raleigh, this seventh day of November, in the year of our Lord, one thousand and nine hundred and thirty-nine and in the one hundred and sixty-fourth year of our American Independence.
Clyde R. Hoey, Governor
Taken from journalpatriot.com.
Saturday, November 1, 1777
The committee appointed to prepare a recommendation to the several states, to set apart a day of public thanksgiving, brought in a report; which was taken into consideration, and agreed to as follows:
Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to him for benefits received, and to implore such farther blessings as they stand in need of; and it having pleased him in his abundant mercy not only to continue to us the innumerable bounties of his common providence, but also smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary war, for the defense and establishment of our unalienable rights and liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased in so great a measure to prosper the means used for the support of our troops and to crown our arms with most signal success:
It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these United States, to set apart Thursday, the 18th day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise; that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor; and that together with their sincere acknowledgments and offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor, and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance; that it may please him graciously to afford his blessings on the governments of these states respectively, and prosper the public council of the whole; to inspire our commanders both by land and sea, and all under them, with that wisdom and fortitude which may render them fit instruments, under the providence of Almighty God, to secure for these United States the greatest of all blessings, independence and peace; that it may please him to prosper the trade and manufactures of the people and the labor of the husbandman, that our land may yield its increase; to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety, under his nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
And it is further recommended, that servile labor, and such recreation as, though at other times innocent, may be unbecoming the purpose of this appointment, be omitted on so solemn an occasion.
Take from WallBuilder.com.
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 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 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 third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.
Taken from WallBuilders.com
The Church of England under King James I, in the early part of the seventeenth century, was persecuting everyone who did not recognize its supreme civil and spiritual authority. Those who believed in freedom of worship were apprehended, imprisoned, and often executed for their beliefs. This is why 102 pilgrims, led by William Bradford, set sail for the New World on August 1, 1620; their desire to live and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences drove them to what they believed was “the Promised Land.”
On their perilous journey, the Pilgrims, who were steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments and looked to the ancient Israelites for their example, established the Mayflower Compact, which was based on Biblical standards. And when the Pilgrims finally landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts in November, they found a cold and desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them; no houses to shelter them; no inns where they could refresh themselves. And the sacrifice they had endured for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims died of starvation, sickness or exposure, but when spring finally came, the Natives taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish, and skin beavers for coats.
As a result, life improved. But in an attempt to prosper, they decided that everything they produced would go into a common store and that each person was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community and everything was distributed equally. Individual ownership was prohibited. And what was the result? Near starvation!
Bradford, the governor of the colony, saw that this form of collectivism was as destructive to the people as their first winter was. As Bradford wrote in his journal, “The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years…that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. The strong had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice.” In today’s vernacular, this manner of life is known as “communism,” which is “an economic and social system envisioned by the nineteenth-century German scholar Karl Marx” (American Heritage Dictionary) and is defined as “a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state” (dictionary.com). Of course, communism didn’t work for the Pilgrims.
So, as a remedy, he assigned a plot of land to each family to manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. In time, they realized that the Biblical principles of personal responsibility, merit, and free-enterprise produced personal motivation which gave incentive to the most creative and industrious people to work harder than anyone else; these self-evident truths released the fundamental principle of private property so that every family could work their own land and market their own crops.
And what was the result? Well, as Bradford wrote, “This had very good success, for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.” Soon, the Pilgrims found they had more than enough food. In time, they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Natives which led to profits, success, prosperity, and the eventual “Great Puritan Migration.”
As a result, the Pilgrims gave thanks to God for the Natives who saved them that first winter and for the Lord Who gave them the wisdom needed to set up a thriving colony which, as we now know, laid the initial groundwork for the creation of our great Country.