Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. President

It is difficult to imagine the 44th president of the United States delivering this Thanksgiving address as George Washington did 220 years ago.

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.

Geo. Washington, President

Golly, you can’t even get away with “in the year of our Lord” anymore! Then again, it’s hard to imagine either Bush, a Clinton, or any other recent president putting God above country. You’d probably have to go back at least to Abraham Lincoln to find anything comparable.

My thanks to reader Frank Weathers for this find!

Happy Thanksgiving,
Webster Bull

  • Kneeling Catholic

    http://www.pilgrimhall.org/ThanxProc2000.htmabove is a link to a collection of recent presidential Thanksgiving day proclamations. >>it's hard to imagine either Bush, a Clinton, or any other recent president putting God above country<<<Mr. Bull, politicians giving lipservice to God is easy to come by. You will find a certain reluctance to mention God directly in Mr. Obama's address which does reveal a lot more than I would have guessed. However lumping President Bush in with Presidents Clinton and Obama as not giving God credit doesn't square. Dislike of Bush – which you seem to be venting – , by Hollywood, the media and elites, stemmed from one word — Abortion. Please don't tell me that it is people loving their country more than God that is the problem. It is a fact that people who feel little loyalty to their country generally have a problem with Faith in general. k.c.

  • Webster Bull

    k.c, I don't see how you can tweeze "dislike" of Bush out of a statement that puts all recent presidents in one pile and contrasts them with the father of our country, who, with his contemporaries, really took the Christian God into account when writing our founding documents and then governing by them. There is nothing in my write-up that contrasts Obama and Clinton with the Bushes. The contrast is with Washington, over 220 years, possibly with Lincoln over 150. By "lumping" Bush with Obama and Clinton, I am trying to crawl, clamber, claw my way above politics to a broader issue, yes, even broader than abortion. That is: what do I put first in my life, God or Caesar? Do I consider the Beatitudes before I bomb Iraq, for example? Do I consider the Commandments before I support abortion, for another example? I am opposed to abortion. I was opposed to the war in Iraq and remain so.

  • Anonymous

    I posted on this very thing here:http://www.opuscula.blogspot.com/

  • http://askpaulschoppecomcast.net Paul

    Please allow some input that I have been prayerfully led regarding "seperation of God and state". It is in need of support and further wisdom as all God loving/ fearing individuals move boldly yet humbly with Truth as our guide. Paul (askpaulschoppe@comcast.net)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03196400928897519510 Pomeranian Catholic

    Barack Obama didn't say that we need to give thanks to God anywhere in his speech. Take a close look.God is only mentioned indirectly in a quote of Washington.

  • Kneeling Catholic

    >>Do I consider the Beatitudes before I bomb Iraq, for example?<<Happy Thanksgiving to you, Mr. Bull! You do know your statement betrays a pacifistic conviction. If the beautitudes make it obvious Bush XLIII should not have attacked, do they then make it obvious that Saddam,–who was paying suicide bombers in Israel [btw no seems to notice that that phenomenon ceased with Saddam's ouster], and had already attempted to assassinate Bush XLI, and did horrible things to the Kurds in Iraq–should still be in business? Do the beautitudes make it obvious that Iraqis should not now be voting in elections? And! [back to George Washington] Do they make it obvious that the American Colonists should not have taken up arms and fought an eight year war?Please forgive my following pontification, but… Pacifism is a haven for elites and ingrates who loath their country. It is not Catholic. And forgive me if I have unfairly tarred you with pacifism, but you did leave yourself wide open.k.c.

  • Webster Bull

    k.c.,Pacifism is indeed Catholic, although it is true that Catholic haters through the centuries have referred to us as "elitist," an obvious attribute of "Papism." The Catholic Church's position on war is, in fact, double. The choice is yours (and mine). The Church supports pacifism, and great Catholics like Dorothy Day and Francis of Assisi were proponents of it, in word and/or deed. The Church also supports the "just war," which is narrowly defined in Church writings, although we seldom hew to that narrow definition. Here it is — The war must be, first of all, defensive, and given that, the following conditions must hold. * the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain; * all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective; * there must be serious prospects of success; * the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.Continuing to quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (par. 2309):"These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the 'just war' doctrine. The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good."We can argue about the American Revolution (it was at least defensive), but the Catholic position is unarguable. Let's set aside pacifism (by your choice). Did/does the Iraq war meet these conditions, beginning with "defensive"? (It's Obama's war now, I know that, as is Afghanistan, so this is not Bush-baiting.) Anyway, I'm quite happy to be "tarred with pacifism," a strange phrase but yours, so please write again. And have a great holiday.

  • Webster Bull

    Thanks for commenting, Geoffrey. But I'm not sure I understand. The speech quoted in my post is by Washington, not Obama, and he mentions Almighty God in the first sentence.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03196400928897519510 Pomeranian Catholic

    I was commenting on the link provided by Kneeling Catholic, as well as the sentiments he expressed in his post. The link was:http://www.pilgrimhall.org/ThanxProc2000.htmI saw Obama's speech on there.

  • Frank

    Full disclosure: I am USMC retired.from the readings a few days ago:On 1 Maccabees this time… On that day they came to this decision: "Let us fight against anyone who attacks us on the sabbath, so that we may not all die as our kinsmen died in the hiding places." http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/1maccabees/1maccabees2.htm#v15 The passage above from Maccabees is perhaps more understandable when reading Psalms 149 for example (an exhortation to shackling kings and brandishing swords) as the Psalm predates the action in Maccabees by several hundred years. Possibly the priest Mattathias saw these Psalms as a "call to action"… http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/psalms/psalm149.htm From Notes on the Psalms: Seventy-three psalms are attributed to David, but there is no sure way of dating any psalm. Some are pre-exilic (before 587), and others are post-exilic (after 539), but not as late as the Maccabean period (ca. 165). But the day before(11/18), the reading was from 2nd Maccabees and was completely pacifist (riddle me this?):http://www.usccb.org/nab/111809.shtmlIn both cases, look how the words of Our Lord weigh in in the Gospel of Luke."Contemplative vs. Active?" or is it "Contemplative plus Active" as St. Bernard, St Francis, and Mother Teresa etc. espouse. Contemplative "only" equals the desert fathers leaving the world and heading out to the desert to sit in their cells. I'm not saying that's not important, but Christ's parable of "the Talents" seems to argue against the Contemplative only model.And here is where the Church once again steps in, in my mind. We all have gifts and we are all called to be employed by Christ. If we do as our Lord instructed and remember the Two Greatest Commandments (you know them by heart) we will be doing the Lord's work when our work is for the Lord.I am reminded of the enormity of the world and how Qoheleth in Ecclesiastes says:" God made everything fitting in it's time; but He also set eternity in our hearts, though we are not able to embrace the work of God from beginning to the end."Think of the 12 Disciples for a second…what a disparate group working for the same King!Back to the oven!

  • Webster Bull

    Thanks, Frank. I think anyone who contemplates pacifism as a valid Catholic response has to be mindful of the Old Testament and its many, many wars. The OT Jews were not always on the defensive, either. They attacked, often "with God on their side." I do not set this aside just because it is the OLD Testament. It is part of our canon. What does it mean? This is one of the reflections to which your comment leads me. And as for "disparate disciples," hallelujah! Here we are, a retired USMC-er and a previously anti-Vietnam, knee-jerk liberal who never raised a fist–talking this over!Back to blogging!

  • Anonymous

    And yet George Washington was not even Catholic.