Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued on October 22, 1906

Yet another year of wide-spread well-being has passed. Never before in our history or in the history of any other nation has a people enjoyed more abounding material prosperity than is ours, a prosperity so general that it should arouse in us no spirit of reckless pride, and least of all a spirit of heedless disregard of our responsibilities, but rather a sober sense of our many blessings and a resolute purpose, under Providence, not to forfeit them by any action of our own.

Material well-being, indispensable tho it is, can never be anything but the foundation of true national greatness and happiness. If we build nothing upon this foundation, then our national life will be as meaningless and empty as a house where only the foundation has been laid. Upon our material well-being must be built a superstructure of individual and national life lived in accordance with the laws of the highest morality, or else our prosperity itself will, in the long run, turn out a curse instead of a blessing. We should be both reverently thankful for what we have received, and earnestly bent upon turning it into a means of grace and not of destruction.

Accordingly, I hereby set apart Thursday, the 29th day of November next, as a day of thanksgiving and supplication on which the people shall meet in their homes or their churches, devoutly acknowledge all that has been given them and pray that they may in addition receive the power to use these gifts aright.

Although Thanksgiving had been observed unofficially since the days of the Pilgrims, various proclamations have been made by royal governors, John Hancock, General George Washington, and the Continental Congress, each giving thanks to God for events favorable to their causes. As President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nation-wide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God.

It was not fixed as a national holiday until the 1870s. On December 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the national Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday.