In 1789, President George Washington proclaimed Thursday, November 26, a day for Americans to give their “sincere and humble thanks” to “that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”
A Day of Thanksgiving became a national tradition in 1863, when Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring that the last Thursday in November would be devoted to the praise an acknowledgement of God’s blessings upon the country. Since then, every president has issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation, and on June 28, 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law the Holidays Act that made Thanksgiving an annual federal holiday.
The words of the nation’s leaders reveal a country beset at times by war and adversity, just as we face our own particular challenges today. The call to give thanks for our blessings in good times and in bad is a welcome and much needed reminder, now as it was then.