Thursday, November 24, 2022

Continental Congress Thanksgiving Proclamation

The first proclamation in the independent United States was issued by John Hancock as President of the Continental Congress as a day of fasting on March 16, 1776. The first national Thanksgiving was celebrated on December 18, 1777, and the Continental Congress issued National Thanksgiving Day proclamations each year between 1778 and 1784. The one I read today for my devotions was The Congressional Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1779. An on-line search reveals many such proclamations, including those from colonies, states, Congress and presidents. The importance of God comes and goes in these government documents, with President Trump the winner with 29 in only one term. Nixon and Ford didn't mention God at all in one of theirs. In number, because he had 4 terms, FDR said the most about God in Thanksgiving proclamations. But over the years, the theme of the Thanksgiving proclamations from our Presidents shifted from thanking and petitioning God to extolling American values.

(from the 1779 document) " . . . to beseech him that he would be graciously pleased to influence our public councils, and bless them with wisdom from on high, with unanimity, firmness, and success; that he would go forth with our hosts and crown our arms with victory; that he would grant to his Church the plentiful effusions of divine grace, and pour out his Holy Spirit on all ministers of the Gospel; that he would bless and prosper the means of education, and spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth; . . . "

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