As we passed that last week in November, I was lamenting the loss of Thanksgiving from our national calendar. To be sure, the day is still listed in the month of November every year, but its importance as a national day of recognition of the blessings and protection of Almighty God over our nation and over our personal lives is all but gone. We still get together as families; the family is the last bastion of “thanksgiving” to God in our great country. However, in the malls and public squares, there is not even a shadow of remembrance of our need of gratitude for the Lord’s giving us such favor among nations.
I recently came across a copy of George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789. Read through our first president’s words, and you will see a very different idea of what he thought America was and was destined to become. He relates it all to the Almighty’s purpose in making our people the caretakers of His divine largesse in the newly independent united States of America (yes, that’s an uncapitalized “united” States — another indication of how he and the other founders viewed the government in our nation’s capital).
I would like to draw your attention particularly to the paragraph near the bottom that begins, “And also that …” The champions of modern secularism that would cringe at the thoughts of our first president if they were ever to give them serious attention (by ignoring them, they pretend that such ideas were never in the minds of our national forebears).
For example, President Washington proclaimed that our new nation was to undertake the following: “… 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; …”
Yes, our people were to become the missionaries of this new type of government — the representative republic. And, our national mission included the need “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.”
Well, there you have it. One integral part of our national mission was to promote “the practice of true religion and virtue,” which to the people of Washington’s day was Christianity. And, in that national Christian atmosphere, to promote “science,” which included not just science as we know it, but learning in general, which has always been the route to freedom and prosperity.
I hope you enjoy the words of our first president, who truly has earned the titled of “Father of our Nation.” The whole thing is very enlightening.
George Washington’s 1789 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 show 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.
(signed) G. Washington