OUR NATION'S FIRST Thanksgiving Day took place on November 26, 1789. It was a religious event.
To the chagrin of the anti-religionists among us today, on September 25, 1789, the first act of Congress after framing the Bill of Rights, which prohibited an establishment of religion, was to pass a resolution requesting that the President of the United States recommend to the people a “Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer.” This Resolution is clear evidence that our Founding Fathers never imagined that the language of the Establishment Clause they had just adopted in the Bill of Rights would someday be interpreted by the Supreme Court as creating a “wall of separation between church and state” and used to ban God from the public square.
Washington enthusiastically agreed to the Resolution of both Houses of Congress. In his Proclamation dated October 3, 1789, he began: “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 favour; …”
Nowadays, Thanksgiving in America is a joyful celebration; a day to spend with family and friends; a day to eat turkey; a day to watch football and Thanksgiving Day parades. But at this time of great turmoil around the world, it is important that we reflect on the reasons for our Nation’s First Thanksgiving. On this Thanksgiving Day, please, take time to thank God for the many blessings we enjoy in this amazing land of ours, and to think about, and implore God’s protection, over the men and women serving in our Armed Forces who stand the lonely guard, in rough and faraway places, so that we may enjoy this Thanksgiving Day far from the sounds of war.
Below is the first National Thanksgiving proclamation issued by President Washington. Please take a moment to read it. Click here to see the actual Proclamation.