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 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 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.

G. Washington (his actual signature)



Shortly after the Thanksgiving Proclamation was written, it was lost for 130
years. The original document was written in long hand by William Jackson, secretary to
the President, and was then signed by George Washington. It was probably misplaced or
mixed in with some private papers when the US capitol moved from New York to Washington,
D.C. The original manuscript was not placed in the National Archives until 1921 when Dr. J. C.
Fitzpatrick, assistant chief of the manuscripts division of the Library of Congress found the
proclamation at an auction sale being held at an art gallery in New York. Dr Fitzpatrick
purchased the document for $300.00 for the Library of Congress, in which it now resides. It was the
first official presidential proclamation issued in the United States.


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