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 and 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 favor, able interpositions of His providence 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 has 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 shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase 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. – G. Washington
Thanksgiving season provides a wonderful opportunity to teach children about the beginnings of our nation, and how God used a small group of believers to do it. As I mention in my article “The First Thanksgiving: the Back Story,” the most important resource for learning about the Pilgrims is William Bradford’s historical narrative, Of Plymouth Plantation. This is a valuable text for older children and adults. But there are some other helpful and fun resources that I’d like to recommend to introduce young children to the people and events related to the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving:
- Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret Pumphrey
- The Light and the Glory for Young Readers by Peter Marshall
- Peter and the Pilgrims by Louise Vernon
- The Landing of the Pilgrims by James Daugherty
- William Bradford, Pilgrim Boy by Bradford Smith
- Sarah Morton’s Day and Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl/Boy by Kate Waters
- On The Mayflower by Kate Waters
- Squanto, Friend Of The Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla
- Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims by Rush Limbaugh
- Plimoth Plantation Virtual Field Trips, Video Tours and Slide Shows (www.scholastic.com)
- Articles and videos on the Pilgrims. the Mayflower and Plimoth Colony (www.history.com) – scroll down for more videos; see articles listed at the right
- Investigate the First Thanksgiving: What Really Happened? (www.plimoth.org) – This site may be very busy during Thanksgiving time, but you can download the application to your hard drive to speed it up.
- Colonial House – Interactive History (www.pbs.org)
- No Extra Room on the Mayflower activity (www.econedlink.org)