On behalf of everyone here at Hot Air, here’s to a happy, blessed, and peaceful Thanksgiving holiday to all of our readers and friends.
Traditionally, people look for presidential precedent to either George Washington, who first established the concept of a national day of Thanksgiving, or Abraham Lincoln, who put it firmly in our culture. The presidents between Washington and Lincoln also participated in this tradition, though, as well as the Congresses during our formative years. Pilgrim Hall Museum has a short collection of Thanksgiving proclamations from the founding presidents, and this one from James Madison is worth a reflection. Note that the date is fixed in April rather than November, as Washington had chosen, but the intent to give thanks to the Lord remains just as strong as it did with our first President.
The senate and House of Representatives of the United States have by a joint resolution signified their desire that a day may be recommended to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnity as a day of thanksgiving and of devout acknowledgments to Almighty God for His great goodness manifested in restoring to them the blessing of peace.
No people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the Great Disposer of Events of the Destiny of Nations than the people of the United States. His kind providence originally conducted them to one of the best portions of the dwelling place allotted for the great family of the human race. He protected and cherished them under all the difficulties and trials to which they were exposed in their early days. Under His fostering care their habits, their sentiments, and their pursuits prepared them for a transition in due time to a state of independence and self-government. In the arduous struggle by which it was attained they were distinguished by multiplied tokens of His benign interposition. During the interval which succeeded He reared them into the strength and endowed them with the resources which have enabled them to assert their national rights, and to enhance their national character in another arduous conflict, which is now so happily terminated by a peace and reconciliation with those who have been our enemies. And to the same Divine Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land.
It is for blessings such as these, and more especially for the restoration of the blessing of peace, that I now recommend that the second Thursday in April next be set apart as a day on which the people of every religious denomination may in their solemn assembles unite their hearts and their voices in a freewill offering to their Heavenly Benefactor of their homage of thanksgiving and of their songs of praise.
May your day be filled with praise, and with family, fun, fellowship, and feasting as well.