George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation
George Washington's Final Thanksgiving Words from his proclamation in 1795 captures a nobility rarely exceeded by any president when he asks God to "... impart all the blessing we possess, or ask for ourselves, to the whole family of mankind."
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 in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable 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 has 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 show kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, 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 3d dy of October, A.D. 1789.
(signed) G. Washington
Shortly after the Thanksgiving Proclamation was written it was lost for over a hundred years. It was apparently misplaced or attached to some private papers in the process of moving official records from one city to another when the capital was changed. However, it happened the original manuscript was not in the official archives until 1921 when Dr. J. C. Fitzpatrick, then assistant chief of the manuscripts division of the Library of Congress "found" the proclamation. It was at an auction sale being held at an art gallery in New York. It was written in long hand by Wm. Jackson, secretary to President Washington and was signed by George Washington. Dr Fitzpatrick purchased the document for $300.00 for the Library of Congress, where it now resides.