National Thanksgiving Proclamation

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The National Thanksgiving Proclamation was the first formal proclamation of Thanksgiving in America. George Washington, the first President of the United States under the Constitution of 1787, made this proclamation on October 3, 1789, in New York City. The initiative for the proclamation originally came from the House of Representatives, though support for the proclamation was hardly unanimous. Some representatives objected that such imitations of European practices would make a mockery of genuine expressions of prayer and thanksgiving, while others objected that expressions of gratitude are private matters that the federal government has no business mandating. Nevertheless, a majority favoring a presidential proclamation prevailed, and President Washington, noting that "both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested [him] 'to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer,'" formally declared November 26 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."[1]

Continental Congress and Articles of Confederation Presidents also issued National Thanksgiving Day Proclamations in 1776, 1777, 1779, 1780, 1781, and 1782. [2] The first presidential proclamation was actually issued by John Hancock as President of the United Colonies Continental Congress on March 16, 1776. The last issued, before the current US Constitution, was proclaimed by John Hanson as President of the United States in Congress Assembled.[3]


  1. ^ What So Proudly We Hail. "Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1789". What So Proudly We Hail: The Meaning of Thanksgiving Day. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Klos, Stanley. "Thanksgiving Day Proclamations". PRESIDENTIAL THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATIONS. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  3. ^ Hanson, John. "John Hanson". President John Hanson. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 

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