National Thanksgiving Proclamation

National Thanksgiving Proclamation

The National Thanksgiving Proclamation was the first formal proclamation of Thanksgiving in America.


The first proclamation was issued by John Hancock as President of the United Colonies Continental Congress on March 16, 1776.[1] The following year the Continental Congress issued a similar proclamation on November 1, 1777.[2]

First National Day of Thanksgiving

President of the United States under the Constitution of 1787, made this proclamation on October 3, 1789,[3] in New York City.[4] The initiative for the proclamation originally came from the House of Representatives, though support for the proclamation was hardly unanimous. Some representatives objected that such imitations of European practices would make a mockery of genuine expressions of prayer and thanksgiving, while others objected that expressions of gratitude are private matters that the federal government has no business mandating. Nevertheless, a majority favoring a presidential proclamation prevailed, and President Washington, noting that "both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested [him] 'to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer,'" formally declared November 26 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."[5]

Continental Congress and Articles of Confederation Presidents also issued National Thanksgiving Day Proclamations in 1777, 1779, 1780, 1781, and 1782. [1] The last issued, before the current US Constitution, was proclaimed by John Hanson as President of the United States in Congress Assembled.[6]


  1. ^ a b Klos, Stanley. "Thanksgiving Day Proclamations". Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  2. ^ "Thanksgiving Proclamation 1777", Pilgrim Hall Museum
  3. ^ "The National Archives Celebrate Thanksgiving", The National Archives, November 20, 2012
  4. ^ "Rediscovering George Washington" PBS
  5. ^ "Thanksgiving Proclamation", George Washington Papers, Library of Congress
  6. ^ Hanson, John. "John Hanson". President John Hanson. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 

See also

  • Background events leading up to the proclamation
  • Further resources on Washington's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation