Historically, Thanksgiving can be traced back to the 1620s, when after crop harvesting was completed early American settlers gathered to thank God for the abundance they had received. In November of 1623 at Plymouth Plantation (a Pilgrim colony) Governor William Bradford issued this proclamation: “All you pilgrims with your wives and little ones, do gather at the Meeting House, on the hill…there to listen to the pastor, and render thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings.” Most historians believe that this was the origin of our annual Thanksgiving celebration.
Throughout the following years, the colonies, under the guidance of the Continental Congress, proclaimed many national days of Thanksgiving to Almighty God, time and again thanking Him for the blessings they had received. On November 1, 1777, by order of the president of the Continental Congress, Henry Laurens, a proclamation was issued that declared the third Thursday of December to be recognized as a National Day of Thanksgiving. Included in the proclamation was the following: “People may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor, …and their humble and earnest supplications that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ.”
George Washington, first president of the United States, penned his famous National Thanksgiving Proclamation on January 1 of 1795. In the proclamation, he wrote “…our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, is to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God, and to implore Him to continue is…our duty as a people.” President Washington changed the previous date for Thanksgiving and in 1795 set the 19th day of February as a national Day of Thanksgiving. On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed by Act of Congress an annual National Day of Thanksgiving to be celebrated on the last Thursday of November. It was to be a day of thanksgiving and praise to “our Benevolent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” He went on in his proclamation and said, “Those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord…but we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us.”
It only seems proper on Thanksgiving that God should be reverently and gratefully acknowledged by all the American people for what He has done for us and our nation. Furthermore, we should always give thanks to Almighty God for all His blessings and His mercy throughout the years.
Whether you look forward to our present Day of Thanksgiving for the thrills and excitement of the ballgames, the mouthwatering aromas of the turkey and pumpkin pies, or the fun and activities of the day, we must take time to express our thanks and reflect upon the bounty we as a people and a nation have been privileged to enjoy. May this Thanksgiving season be a memorable one in which you and yours enjoy the blessings of our great country.