Presidential Thanksgiving Day Proclamations From George Washington to Barack Obama

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by annsni, Nov 26, 2009.

  1. annsni

    annsni
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    I'm posting this in two threads - it's SOOOOO good.

    _________________________


    I thought it would be interesting to observe the presidential Thanksgiving Day proclamations that have occurred over the years, beginning with our first President George Washington.

    As I read through these documents, I found a profound change in worldview present from Washington, and Lincoln, to our current President Obama.

    Why not encourage your family to read through these, and discuss the differences you might find, and why you think these differences might exist?

    George Washington's 1789 Presidential 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 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, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquillity, 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 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 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 1789.



    John Adams' 1798 Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation:

    As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness can not exist nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed; and as this duty, at all times incumbent, is so especially in seasons of difficulty or of danger, when existing or threatening calamities, the just judgments of God against prevalent iniquity, are a loud call to repentance and reformation; and as the United States of America are at present placed in a hazardous and afflictive situation by the unfriendly disposition, conduct, and demands of a foreign power, evinced by repeated refusals to receive our messengers of reconciliation and peace, by depredations on our commerce, and the infliction of injuries on very many of our fellow-citizens while engaged in their lawful business on the seas – under these considerations it has appeared to me that the duty of imploring the mercy and benediction of Heaven on our country demands at this time a special attention from its inhabitants.
    I have therefore thought fit to recommend, and I do hereby recommend, that Wednesday, the 9th day of May next, be observed throughout the United States as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens of these States, abstaining on that day from their customary worldly occupations, offer their devout addresses to the Father of Mercies agreeably to those forms or methods which they have severally adopted as the most suitable and becoming; that all religious congregations do, with the deepest humility, acknowledge before God the manifold sins and transgressions with which we are justly chargeable as individuals and as a nation, beseeching Him at the same time, of His infinite grace, through the Redeemer of the World, freely to remit all our offenses, and to incline us by His Holy Spirit to that sincere repentance and reformation which may afford us reason to hope for his inestimable favor and heavenly benediction; that it be made the subject of particular and earnest supplication that our country may be protected from all the dangers which threaten it; that our civil and religious privileges may be preserved inviolate and perpetuated to the latest generations; that our public councils and magistrates may be especially enlightened and directed at this critical period; that the American people may be united in those bonds of amity and mutual confidence and inspired with that vigor and fortitude by which they have in times past been so highly distinguished and by which they have obtained such invaluable advantages; that the health of the inhabitants of our land may be preserved, and their agriculture, commerce, fisheries, arts, and manufactures be blessed and prospered; that the principles of genuine piety and sound morality may influence the minds and govern the lives of every description of our citizens and that the blessings of peace, freedom, and pure religion may be speedily extended to all the nations of the earth.
    And finally, I recommend that on the said day the duties of humiliation and prayer be accompanied by fervent thanksgiving to the Bestower of Every Good Gift, not only for His having hitherto protected and preserved the people of these United States in the independent enjoyment of their religious and civil freedom, but also for having prospered them in a wonderful progress of population, and for conferring on them many and great favors conducive to the happiness and prosperity of a nation.
    Given under my hand the seal of the United States of America, at Philadelphia, this 23d day of March, A.D. 1798, and of the Independence of the said States the twenty-second.
     
  2. annsni

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    Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation:

    The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. 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.



    Barack Obama's 2009 Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation:

    What began as a harvest celebration between European settlers and indigenous communities nearly four centuries ago has become our cherished tradition of Thanksgiving. This day's roots are intertwined with those of our Nation, and its history traces the American narrative. Today, we recall President George Washington, who proclaimed our first national day of public thanksgiving to be observed "by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God," and President Abraham Lincoln, who established our annual Thanksgiving Day to help mend a fractured Nation in the midst of civil war. We also recognize the contributions of Native Americans, who helped the early colonists survive their first harsh winter and continue to strengthen our Nation. From our earliest days of independence, and in times of tragedy and triumph, Americans have come together to celebrate Thanksgiving. As Americans, we hail from every part of the world. While we observe traditions from every culture, Thanksgiving Day is a unique national tradition we all share. Its spirit binds us together as one people, each of us thankful for our common blessings. As we gather once again among loved ones, let us also reach out to our neighbors and fellow citizens in need of a helping hand. This is a time for us to renew our bonds with one another, and we can fulfill that commitment by serving our communities and our Nation throughout the year. In doing so, we pay tribute to our country's men and women in uniform who set an example of service that inspires us all. Let us be guided by the legacy of those who have fought for the freedoms for which we give thanks, and be worthy heirs to the noble tradition of goodwill shown on this day. NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 26, 2009, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all the people of the United States to come together, whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place where family, friends and neighbors may gather, with gratitude for all we have received in the past year; to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own; and to share our bounty with others. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.

    What a difference a few hundred years makes in our president's worldviews!

    (from http://www.boomerinthepew.com/2009/...ter/a_boomer_in_the_pew+(A+Boomer+in+the+Pew))
     
  3. Tom Butler

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    God forbid that the President should thank God for anything.
     
  4. rbell

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    What a godless piece of trash we have running our country. I'll pray for him, because God commands it; however, without hesitation I'm praying for his salvation rather than God's guidance...because it's obvious with this "leader" that he neither knows nor cares what the will of God is.

    There have been many presidents in my lifetime that I was unsure of how they stood with Almighty God. With our current "leader," I now have no doubt.

    The only time he uses the name of God is to justify his political position. May he come to know the God whose Name he uses so flippantly.
     
  5. asterisktom

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    Here is something interesting to try: Do a word search on this page for "Jesus" and then for "Christ". In all of these proclamations there is not one mention of Jesus or Christ - not in Obama's (of course), but not in Washington's, Adam's, or Lincoln's either. While this may not be conclusive in itself, to me at least, it indicates that the "faith" of many of our presidents is pragmatically generic.

    A lot of the assumed Christianity of Washington is a combination of wishful thinking on the part of many, and of outright deception on the part of others. Parson Weems is an atrocious example of the latter. George Washington had only been dead for a year (I think) when Weems wrote his book on him, filled with stories which were either made up to illustrate a moral point, or were based on the thinnest of anecdotal evidences.

    I used to have higher regard for our presidents - I still do for a few - but having to teach American history from A Beka books has caused me to do much reading over the years, especially original sources. I just don't want to teach things just because the text says so. I owe it to me my conscience - and to the students - to find and teach the truth.

    I found out that Washington spoke very rarely about Jesus Christ, but Providence, the Almighty, the Deity. This is not the language of a Christian, but a deist. Both he and Adams ended up in unbelieving denomination (Freemasonry and Unitarian).

    Much more could be said. I just don't think we, as Christians, need to circle our wagons on this plot of ground. There are bigger, clearer issues.

    My two cents.
    Tom Riggle
     
    #5 asterisktom, Nov 29, 2009
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  6. Johnv

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    Funny thing is, the feast we associate with the first thanksgiving feast in 1621 wasn't a thanksgiving feast as we know it. It was a harvest feast, and by the standards of the day, was rather secular. It's interesting that Washington and Jefferson, who were not Christians, called upon an acknowledgement of the providence of God, while Obama, who is a professed Christian, recalls Washington's proclaimation of thanksgiving by acknowledging the blessings of Almighty God.

    If this is being used as an excuse to oppose Obama, it's silly. There are lots of reasons to be opposed to Obama. This isn't one of them.
     
    #6 Johnv, Nov 30, 2009
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  7. annsni

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    I just found it really interesting just WHO each president was thankful to. All of the other presidents (and I'm sure more than just those three) were thankful to Almighty God whereas President Obama is thankful to other people. It's a very big base difference IMO.
     
  8. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    Wow - if President Obama is bad how about the guys from 1816-1861 who did not even issue a proclamation?
     
  9. Bro. Curtis

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    Excellent. I also read a bio of Lincoln's, which stated he used to ridicule Christians, and preachers, and only stopped when it was told to him his political career would be a short one if he continued.
     
  10. Johnv

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    Interesting, since Lincoln was without any doubt a devout and professed Christian (compared to Washington and Jefferson, who were not).
     
  11. asterisktom

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    I am still looking into Lincoln. At this point it seems that he was a Christian, as is grudgingly admitted at this agnostic site:

    http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/the_rational_response_squad_radio_show/freethinking_anonymous/8789

    See comment #2 for the grudging admittance.

    I suspect the truth about Lincoln is that he was a man with rough edges but a true faith. There is a wide-range of treatment on Lincoln, from the scandalous to the almost-hagiographic.

    About the other early presidents, I don't know who I would see as Christian. Having read sufficient amount of biographie sof the first three, as well as Franklin, I would rule them out.
     
  12. Revmitchell

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    I see people will believe what they want to believe. So Washington did not mention Christ enough in recorded proclamations so he was a deist? What a load of hogwash.
     
  13. Johnv

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    Saying it over and over doesn't make it true. Washington wasn't a Christian. He was most definitely a deist. None of Washington's private writings remotely suggest that he had a personal faith in Christ.

    And, no, Washington didn't mention Christ at all. The one time he uses the phrase, he is referring to the Delaware Indians having committed themselves to learning “the religion of Jesus Christ”. Nothing in Washintgon's writings suggest he was a Christian. Everythign in his writings lend evidence to him being an Enlightened Deist.

    It is you, revmitchell, that is choosing to believe what you want to believe. I, OTOH, believe the objective facts.
     
  14. asterisktom

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    One thing I don't understand is why people get so defensive about this topic. When I first found out I was surprised but my faith was untouched. It's not as if I claimed the Apostle Paul was deist.:tongue3:

    I have friends who believe that because the agnostics and "freethinkers" say these things about our president then the opposite must be true. But that just isn't so.

    I do suspect that many of the rationalist & agnostic are not above using questionable (dubious as to authenticity) quotes, but then again we Christians have our own pseudo-historian "experts" who also quite quick to foist off their set of quotes to gullible Christians. Parson Weems and his illustrator Friberg have blazed that trail of pious humbug that has cost so much problems to undiscerning Christians of later generations.
     
    #14 asterisktom, Dec 1, 2009
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  15. annsni

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    Whatever they were, the acknowledge the hand of God in our lives and in our country. Way more than what happens today.
     
  16. Johnv

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    History tends to enhance the sweetness and allow the bitterness to dilute. If nonchristians like Jefferson and Franklin were alive today, I guarantee you, we'd be calling them mockers of Christ. But the fact that so much time has gone by allows us to be more forgiving upon their nonchristian traits. Compare that today, where if a person proclaims Christ, we look for every reason to denounce their claim.
     
  17. Revmitchell

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    Washington was a Christian and there is no reason to believe otherwise. Such silliness
     
  18. saturneptune

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    That is the best post of this thread. First, I appreciate Ann posting them. There is a definite departure from Lincoln to Obama, from a spiritual mindset to a worldly mindset. That was her point. The fact that the word Jesus is not mentioned in the proclomations is a mute point. The first three leaders mentioned Christ in other documents and speeches. Instead of nit picking one or two proclamations, why not be grateful the Lord raised up the leaders this country needed when we needed them?

    Why is it that there are always people that like to pick apart an edifying thread for no purpose? If those proclamations that Ann posted had contained every point of theology of the Baptist faith, you all would have complained that they did not announce the time and place for the next pot luck.

    Why is it that we always have to tear down our nation's heritage of being founded on Christian-Judeo principles? What is it you are trying to prove, that we are more in tune with the present occupant of the Presidency? From what I see, most of the ones complaining and rewriting our history, have never lifted one finger to serve this nation.
     
  19. Johnv

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    Washington was not a Christian and there is no reason to believe otherwise. Such silliness.
    Yes, absolutely.
    Who in this thread is doing that?
     
    #19 Johnv, Dec 3, 2009
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  20. asterisktom

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    I would like to know what those "other documents and speeches" are.

    I did not pick nits. I read books - lots of them. I teach history, so I really want to find the truth and then teach it. If you really want to find out about Washington, take a look at one of the many archives of his writings and then search them. Here is one:
    http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/project/search.html

    On this search page of his writings I did a check on certain words. The following words came up the following amount of times:
    "congress" -- 211 (No surprise here)
    "providence" -- 46
    "religion" -- 28
    "Christ" -- 6
    "Jesus" -- 1

    It is no surprise that we see "providence" or "religion"; those are deistic words. Both Christians and believers in impersonal gods use these words. Nothing conclusive here.

    "Christ" was only used six times - each time referring to a church name (and part of the editor's copy) or referring to a last name. Not once did GW mention our saviour in this sampling. Likewise, "Jesus" was from an introductory paragraph, explaining how Washington's famous essay on moral advice actually came from a Jesuit.

    I am not saying that there is not a reference to Christ Jesus in Washington's whole corpus of writing. I am just saying I haven't found that particular needle in this voluminous haystack.

    If you want to make him a patron saint - go for it. You can have him. I appreciate his generalship, his wisdom as a president, etc, . but I will not give to anyone I am witnessing to the impression that he is a model Christian for him. Real Christians aren't ashamed of the name of Christ.
    The first thing one does before one edifies is "pick apart" what is in the way. If I build a house I have to get rid of obstructions and everything that impedes my laying a solid foundation. Our country does indeed have some glorious, God-honoring parts in its history. But the phony painting of GW kneeling on one knee in the snow of Valley Forge is not one of them. That's just humbug. So are the majority of stories circulated about him. (For starters, do a search - those who care - on "Parson Weems". It will tell you all you need to know.)

    No, his writings needn't have "every point of theology right". But he certainly needs to have the Name right. Is that asking too much?

    What do you want me to do -- go to Afghanistan? :laugh:

    If our history hadn't already been rewritten this topic wouldn't even have come up.
     

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