Just as I did last year, I can't think of a better way to commemorate Thanksgiving than to reproduce two of the documents that are seminal to the occasion.
On October 3rd, 1789, President George Washington signed the following proclamation.
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE
UNITED STATES of AMERICA,
NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH 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 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, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; -- and in general, for all the great and various favors which he hath 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 publick 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 shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good government, 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 third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.
During the next seven decades, the observance of Thanksgiving, as we call the holiday today, was fairly regular, but it wasn't recognized as a public holiday. That had to wait for President Lincoln's proclamation in 1863.
United States of America.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward
Secretary of State
And so Thanksgiving became a national holiday. In 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt moved it to the third Thursday in November, so as to extend the holiday shopping period and boost the economy. However, there was massive public protest, so in 1941 he changed it back to the fourth Thursday in November, where it's remained ever since.
Dear readers, I wish you all the happiest of Thanksgiving holidays: and may we truly give thanks to God, by whatever name we know him (or, if you don't believe in God, to whomever you count as the author or source of good things) for all our blessings. I'll be giving thanks particularly for all of you who've stopped by this year, and helped to make this blog so much fun for me. You're all a blessing, in your own way.
God bless you all: and thank you.