WHAT IS THE COMMON DENOMINATOR?

by George Washington, ©1789

(Nov. 27, 2014) — [New York, 3 October 1789]

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By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee 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 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 which we experienced 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 enabled 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 hath 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 shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease 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 third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

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by Samuel Adams, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1795

Forasmuch as the occasional meeting of a People for the exercise of Piety and Devotion towards God, more especially of those who enjoy the Light of Divine Revelation, has a strong tendency to impress their minds with a sense of their Dependence upon Him and their Obligations to HIM.

I have thought fit, according to the ancient and laudable Practice of our renowned Ancestors, to appoint a day of Public Thanksgiving to God, for the great benefits which He has been pleased to bestow upon us, in the Year past. And I do by the advice and consent of the Council, appoint THURSDAY, the Nineteenth day of November next, to be observed as a DAY of PUBLIC THANKSGIVING and PRAISE throughout this Commonwealth: Calling upon the Ministers of the Gospel of all Denominations, with their respective Congregations to assemble on that Day, to offer to God, their unfeigned [sic] Gratitude, for his great Goodness to the People of the United States in general, and of this Commonwealth in particular.

More especially in that he hath in his Good Providence united the several States under a National Compact, formed by themselves, whereby they may defend themselves against external Enemies, and maintain Peace and Harmony with each other.

That internal Tranquility hath been continued within this Commonwealth; and that the voice of Health is so generally heard in the habitations of the People.

That the Earth has yielded her increase, so that the Labors of our industrious Husbandmen have been abundantly crowned with Plenty.

That our Fisheries have been so far prospered.—Our Trade notwithstanding obstructions it has met with, has yet been profitable to us, and the works of our Hands have been established.

That while other Nations have been involved in War, attended with an uncommon profusion of Human Blood, we in the course of Divine Providence, have been preserved from so grievous a Calamity, and have enjoyed so great a measure of the Blessing of Peace.

And I do recommend that together with our Thanksgiving, humble Prayer may be offered to God, that we may be enabled, by the subsequent obedience of our Hearts and Manners, to testify the sincerity of our professions of Gratitude, in the sight of God and Man; and thus be prepared for the Reception of future Divine Blessings.

That God would be pleased to Guide and Direct the Administration of the Federal Government, and those of the several States, in Union, so that the whole People may continue to be safe and happy in the Constitutional enjoyment of their Rights, Liberties and Privileges and our Governments be greatly respected at Home and Abroad.

And while we rejoice in the Blessing of Health bestowed upon us, we would sympathize with those of our Sister States, who are visited with a Contagious and Mortal Disease; and fervently supplicate the Father of Mercies, that they may speedily be restored to a state of Health and Prosperity.

That He would in His abundant Mercy regard our Fellow Citizen and others, who are groaning under abject Slavery, in Algiers, and direct the most effectual measure for their speedy Relief.

That He would graciously be pleased to put an end to all Tyranny and Usurpation, that the People who are under the Yoke of Oppression, may be made free; and that the Nations who are contending for Freedom may still be secured by His Almighty Aid, and enabled under His influence, to complete wise Systems of Civil Government, founded in the equal Rights of Man, and calculated to establish their permanent Security and Welfare.

And Finally, that the Peaceful and Glorious Reign of our Divine Redeemer, may be known and enjoyed throughout the whole Family of Mankind.

And I do recommend to the People of this Commonwealth, to abstain from all such Labor and Recreation, as may not be consistent with the Solemnity of the said Day.

GIVEN at the Council-Chamber, in Boston, the fourteenth Day of October, in the Year of our LORD, One Thousand seven Hundred and Ninety-five, and in the Twentieth Year of the Independence of the United States of America.

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by James Madison, 1815

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.

Given at the city of Washington on the 4th day of March, A.D. 1815, and of the Independence of the United States the thirty-ninth.

JAMES MADISON

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