RUSH: The George Washington Thanksgiving proclamation establishing the national holiday was October 3rd, 1789. That was the date of the proclamation. Here’s how it begins: “Whereas, it is the duty of…” By the way, let me say something here at the outset. The Pilgrims, George Washington? They’re not just distant figures in history. These are the people who, among others, founded this country. This is genuinely awesome. That word’s thrown around, but what they did, how they got there, is historical. It’s not some distant group of people.
They are us.
“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 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…”
This is shortly after the Constitution was official, giving thanks for that as well.
“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.” And “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 … and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord.
To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease [sic] 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 me hand at the city of New York on the 3rd day of October in the Year of Our Lord 1789, George Washington.” How many of you have heard that our founders were atheists or were agnostics? So that’s the first Thanksgiving, the official proclamation for it. It has traceable roots right back to the Pilgrims.