George Washington: First Thanksgiving Proclamation

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A contemplation of the compleat attainment (at a period earlier than could have been expected) of the object for which we contended against so formidable a power cannot but inspire us with astonishment and gratitude. The disadvantageous circumstances on our part, under which the war was undertaken, can never be forgotten. The singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the unparalleled perseverance of the Armies of the U States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle.   George Washington

The father of our nation was a religious man.  He had no doubt of the existence of God, and that He intervened in the affairs of men and nations.  Therefore it is no surprise that he originated the tradition of the last Thursday in November for Americans to thank God.  Lincoln revived the tradition in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War.  When we celebrate Thanksgiving today, we are celebrating a holiday that is at the very core of American history from the Pilgrims forward.

 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.


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  1. He was a deist, not a Christian. Just because he believed in God, doesn’t mean he believed in the Catholic God.

  2. That is quite a popular theory Charles, but I believe it is wrong. I think Washington was a fairly conventional Christian. He avoided the use of language that could smack of sectarianism, and he made it a point of attending Christian services of all the major sects in America at the time. However, his relatives attested to his belief in Christ and they knew him best. Unlike Jefferson, there is not a word in Washington’s correspondence indicating any doubt in Christianity.

  3. He oversaw the “No Religious Clause” of the US Constitution and oversaw the completion of the Treaty of Tripoli which laid out in perfect terms that the US wasn’t founded on Christian values. I don’t see how any Christian man could endorse it if it weren’t true. He was forced to declare himself apart of the Anglican Church in order to be granted such credulity in the first place. He was a Freemason, and as any Freemason will tell you, he was known for his doubts of Christian literature (but not particularly of God).

  4. There is no “no religious clause” in the US Constitution. There is a First Amendment which establishes freedom of religion and bans Congress from creating a Federal established religion.

    Actually the treaty with Tripoli was ratified in 1797 under John Adams. The provision you cite:

    “Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

    was thrown in because the Barbary Pirates routinely declared war on all Christian states. As the subsequent wars with the Barbary Pirates and the US indicated, the Treaty was unsuccessful.

    Washington was an Episcopalian by birth, and regularly attended those services, as well as those of other Christian denominations, including Catholic mass, when traveling. As for his Freemasony, Washington didn’t make much of it, as he indicated when he wrote a letter to a crackpot, George Washington Snyder, who sent him a book warning against the dangers of the Illuminati:

    “Mount Vernon, September 25, 1798.

    Sir: Many apologies are due to you, for my not acknowledging the receipt of your obliging favour of the 22d. Ulto, and for not thanking you, at an earlier period, for the Book you had the goodness to send me.

    I have heard much of the nefarious, and dangerous plan, and doctrines of the Illuminati, but never saw the Book until you were pleased to send it to me. The same causes which have prevented my acknowledging the receipt of your letter have prevented my reading the Book, hitherto; namely, the multiplicity of matters which pressed upon me before, and the debilitated state in which I was left after, a severe fever had been removed. And which allows me to add little more now, than thanks for your kind wishes and favourable sentiments, except to correct an error you have run into, of my Presiding over the English lodges in this Country. The fact is, I preside over none, nor have I been in one more than once or twice, within the last thirty years. I believe notwithstanding, that none of the Lodges in this Country are contaminated with the principles ascribed to the Society of the Illuminati. With respect I am &c.”

  5. I misspoke. I was referring to the “No Religious Test Clause” located in Article VI, paragraph 3 of the US Constitution.

    George Washington was a 33rd Degree Mason. Here are some pics of Washington in full outfit:

    I realize there are a lot of enemies to the Masons, and that’s okay, but it’s not okay to conjecture facts. In the Lodge at Fredericksburg in
    Virginia, he was declared Master Mason. He visited the lodge numerous times, and they’re all on record. If this is a legitimate letter, it must have been a lie to cover himself up, because there are in fact records of him being a member of several lodges. I suspect you know nothing about Freemasonry, and again that’s okay, but it’s not okay to project prejudices before conducting objective historical research.

    As to the Treaty, it was still unanimously voted on, and that is enough evidence as any to definitively claim that we’re not a Christian nation.

  6. 1. The No Religious Test Clause has nothing anti-religious or anti-Christian about it. It was meant to avoid the situation in England where political office was restricted to Anglicans and a few other favored Protestant sects.

    2. In regard to Freemasony the letter is part of George Washington’s recognized correspondence. Look it up for yourself. As to your contention that he was lying, that is risible. Why on Earth would he lie in a piece of private correspondence about his attendance at Masonic lodges? The Masons made much of Washington being a member, but he apparently viewed it as little more than a fraternal organization. His correspondence has precious few references to the Masons, and it apparently just wasn’t very important to him.

  7. As to the Tripoli treaty, you have completely ignored my exaplanation as to why the provision about this not being a Christian nation was tossed in there, no doubt because you are unfamiliar with the early history of this nation, and mentioned the Tripoli treaty because you had heard about it on the internet. Atheist web-sites are fond of citing this treaty in contending that the Founding Fathers were not Christians, and reveal their bone ignorance about the time period when they do so.

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