“During the Thanksgiving season we often hear that the first national Thanksgiving Proclamation was given by Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C. on October 3, 1863. What the northern history books fail to mention is that Lincoln, bowing to political pressure, copied the President of the Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis actually had made the first national Proclamation of Thanksgiving two years earlier in Richmond, Virginia.”
In fact, of course, the very first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation was issued by George Washington, on 3 October 1789 (see also here, for more background).
And the first Thanksgiving itself, on what would become the original 13 Colonies, later 13 States, was actually held in Virginia, at a place called the Berkeley Hundred, a year before the Pilgrims reached Plimouth (as it was called then)!
That was held on 4 December 1619. It was more about prayer than feasting – which may explain why it has not gotten the societal traction of the Pilgrim’s event – and the foods that were served were probably ham and oysters, not turkey and dressing.
Wishing all my American friends a very Happy Thanksgiving! I am looking forward to enjoying turkey with all the trimmings at my brother and sister-in-law’s place; but I hope that all who celebrate will remember that this is, first and foremost, a day of Thanksgiving, and so pause to give thanks to God for all the remarkable benefits we enjoy, both as denizens of this good Earth, and as citizens of this great country. We are truly blessed! May we strive to be worth of that blessing.
O MOST merciful Father, who hast blessed the labours of the husbandman in the returns of the fruits of the earth; We give thee humble and hearty thanks for this thy bounty; beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness to us, that our land may still yield her increase, to thy glory and our comfort; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The time of year has come when, in accordance with the wise custom of our forefathers, it becomes my duty to set aside a special day of thanksgiving and praise to the Almighty because of the blessings we have received, and of prayer that these blessings may be continued. Yet another year of widespread well-being has past. Never before in our history or in the history of any other nation has a people enjoyed more abounding material prosperity than is ours; a prosperity so great that it should arouse in us no spirit of reckless pride, and least of all a spirit of heedless disregard of our responsibilities; but rather a sober sense of our many blessings, and a resolute purpose, under Providence, not to forfeit them by any action of our own.
Material well-being, indispensable tho it is, can never be anything but the foundation of true national great-ness and happiness. If we build nothing upon this foundation, then our national life will be as meaningless and empty as a house where only the foundation has been laid. Upon our material well-being must be built a superstructure of individual and national life lived in accordance with the laws of the highest morality, or else our prosperity itself will in the long run turn out a curse instead of a blessing. We should be both reverently thankful for what we have received, and earnestly bent upon turning it into a means of grace and not of destruction.
Accordingly I hereby set apart Thursday, the twenty-ninth day of November, next, as a day of thanksgiving and supplication, on which the people shall meet in their homes or their churches, devoutly to acknowledge all that has been given them, and to pray that they may in addition receive the power to use these gifts aright.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixt.
Done at the City of Washington this 22nd day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and six and of the independence of the United States the one hundred and thirty-first.
“Interestingly, this proclamation may be more cautionary than celebratory. Roosevelt declares the day of thanksgiving in a solemn tone that suggests that American citizens take their blessings for granted. He extorts the population to build upon their material prosperity in a meaningful manner so that this prosperity is not wasted. Considering how sober the final proclamation is, it is more surprising to see the content Roosevelt removed. The document in our digital library clearly shows what the president removed from his original manuscript, the language of which was much harsher. In the sentences that were removed, TR discusses ‘our own folly, weakness or wickedness,’ and expounds upon the theme of disaster that would surely come if Americans are not careful with their ‘material well-being.'”
Indeed. As true now, or more, than it was in 1906!
I am coming to increasingly dislike the use of the word “liberal” to describe the American left-wing: there are very few authentic “liberals” out there. Most of what claims the mantle of “liberalism” these days is anything but; it is, rather, statist authoritarianism implacably opposed to everything that has contributed to the American ideal, and American success, for more than 200 years. As this essay accurately puts it,
“Resentment is the force that gives the left meaning.
“What animates the left is the conviction that everything (except their own tastes, preferences and opinions) is terrible and must be reformed until it too is like them. America is racist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, arachnophobic and claustrophobic.”
“doesn’t just color the politics of a militant leftist. It encompasses his entire outlook on life. The personal conviction that the world is an unfair place fits neatly into an ideology that claims to be able to prove using science and history that the world is a truly unfair place…
“The left isn’t actually fighting for anything. It’s fighting against things. Big things and little things. It’s fighting against America. And it’s fighting against families sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner.”
“There are plenty of problems in our country and the world. But if we can’t stop to be thankful for the good things, we will sink into the same swamp of resentment as the left.
“To be thankful is to be reminded of what we are fighting for. The resentful left doesn’t really fight for anything. Its resentful causes have no end point. There will never be a time when race relations, the environment, social mobility and caloric intakes are good enough for them to hang up their hats. The left maintains a perpetual state of crisis because it justifies a perpetual state of resentment.”
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
“Conservatives fight for the things in our lives that we value. And these are the very things that we are thankful for. Our gratitude reminds us of what we want to conserve. These include the tangible things, our families, our homes and our lives, and the intangible things, our freedoms and our traditions.
“The left can’t be thankful because it can’t admit that there’s anything worth appreciating. Revolutionary movements don’t create, they destroy. But we can and should be thankful for what we conserve…
“If we lose our ability to be thankful for the good things in our lives, we lose everything.”
Wishing all my American friends and family a Happy Thanksgiving, and traveling mercies if you are visiting relatives or friends to celebrate! And as we celebrate the blessings and bounties we enjoy, let us not fail to remember and pray for those less fortunate.
¶ Instead of the Venite, the following shall be said or sung.
O PRAISE the Lord, for it is a good thing to sing praises unto our God; * yea, a joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful.
The Lord doth build up Jerusalem, * and gather together the outcasts of Israel.
He healeth those that are broken in heart, * and giveth medicine to heal their sickness.
O sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; * sing praises upon the harp unto our God:
Who covereth the heaven with clouds, and prepareth rain for the earth; * and maketh the grass to grow upon the mountains, and herb for the use of men;
Who giveth fodder unto the cattle, * and feedeth the young ravens that call upon him.
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem; * praise thy God, O Sion.
For he hath made fast the bars of thy gates, * and hath blessed thy children within thee.
He maketh peace in thy borders, * and filleth thee with the flour of wheat.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, * world without end. Amen.
O MOST merciful Father, who hast blessed the labours of the husbandman in the return of the fruits of the earth; We give thee humble and hearty thanks for this thy bounty; beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness to us, that our land may still yield her increase, to thy glory and our comfort; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.