**Previously recorded by Phyllis Schlafly // November 2015 **
Today, as we celebrate the great American religious holiday, Thanksgiving, let’s recall how this tradition started. In 1789, a week after Congress approved the First Amendment, President George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving Proclamation. Here are his words: “Whereas both Houses of Congress … 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 Thursday, the 26th day of November … to be devoted by the people of these United 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.” George Washington concluded his Proclamation by urging “That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks … for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government …for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed … to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue.”
There certainly was no doubt about Who Washington was giving thanks to for the great blessings showered on America. And there is no doubt that he was calling on us to observe Thanksgiving as a day of “public” prayer, and that he stated that “religious liberty” includes “promoting the knowledge and practice of true religion.” America has prospered in freedom for more than two centuries and, yes indeed, America has so much for which to thank God on Thanksgiving Day.