Category Archives: General
“The recurrence of that season at which it is the habit of our people to make devout and public confession of their constant dependence upon the divine favor for all the good gifts of life and happiness and of public peace and prosperity exhibits in the record of the year abundant reasons for our gratitude and thanksgiving.
“Exuberant harvests, productive mines, ample crops of the staples of trade and manufactures, have enriched the country.
“The resources thus furnished to our reviving industry and expanding commerce are hastening the day when discords and distresses through the length and breadth of the land will, under the continued favor of Providence, have given way to confidence and energy and assured prosperity.
“Peace with all nations has been maintained unbroken, domestic tranquillity has prevailed, and the institutions of liberty and justice which the wisdom and virtue of our fathers established remain the glory and defense of their children.
“The general prevalence of the blessings of health through our wide land has made more conspicuous the sufferings and sorrows which the dark shadow of pestilence has cast upon a portion of our people. This heavy affliction even the Divine Ruler has tempered to the suffering communities in the universal sympathy and succor which have flowed to their relief, and the whole nation may rejoice in the unity of spirit in our people by which they cheerfully share one another’s burdens.
“Now, therefore, I, Rutherford B. Hayes, President of the United States, do appoint Thursday, the 28th day of November next, as a day of national thanksgiving and prayer; and I earnestly recommend that, withdrawing themselves from secular cares and labors, the people of the United States do meet together on that day in their respective places of worship, there to give thanks and praise to Almighty God for His mercies and to devoutly beseech their continuance.”*
President Hayes’ Thanksgiving proclamation is another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Psalm 107:35-38 and reflect on the goodness of God toward Israel and compare that with President Hayes’ enumeration of God’s providential blessing on America.
Prayer: Father, we are grateful for your providential blessings of sunshine and rain, seedtime and harvest. We thank you for farmers who work hard to grow our food and for your gracious provision, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: James D. Richardson, et al, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 11 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1910), 7:490-491.
“In remembrance of God’s goodness to us during the past year, which has been so abundant, “let us offer unto Him our thanksgiving and pay our vows unto the Most High” [Psalm 50:14]. Under His watchful providence industry has prospered, the conditions of labor have been improved, the rewards of the husbandman have been increased, and the comforts of our homes multiplied. His mighty hand has preserved peace and protected the nation. Respect for law and order has been strengthened, love of free institutions cherished, and all sections of our beloved country brought into closer bonds of fraternal regard and generous cooperation.
“For these great benefits it is our duty to praise the Lord in a spirit of humility and gratitude and to offer up to Him our most earnest supplications [Philippians 4:6].
“That we may acknowledge our obligation as a people to Him who has so graciously granted us the blessings of free government and material prosperity, I, William McKinley, President of the United States, do hereby designate and set apart Thursday, the twenty-fifth day of November, for national thanksgiving and prayer, which all of the people are invited to observe with appropriate religious services in their respective places of worship. On this day of rejoicing and domestic reunion let our prayers ascend to the Giver of every good and perfect gift [James 1:17] for the continuance of His love and favor to us, that our hearts may be filled with charity and good will, and we may be ever worthy of His beneficent concern.”*
William McKinley’s 1897 scripture-based Thanksgiving Proclamation is another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Psalm 50:14 and reflect on President McKinley’s quotation of that Scripture.
Prayer: Father, we are grateful, especially during this season of the year, for the many blessings we enjoy at your hand. Teach us how to be thankful every day, and not only on the one day it is proclaimed by presidents, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: James D. Richardson, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 20 vols. (New York: Bureau of National Literature, Inc., 1923), 13:6470-6471. Bracketed items added.
“And Almighty God being the only Lord of Conscience, Father of Lights and Spirits; and the
Author as well as Object of all divine Knowledge, Faith and Worship, who only doth enlighten the Minds, and persuade and convince the Understandings of People, I do hereby grant and declare:
“That no Person or Persons, inhabiting in this province or Territories, who shall confess and
acknowledge One Almighty God, the Creator, Upholder and Ruler of the World; and profess Him or themselves obliged to live quietly under the Civil Government, shall be in any Case molested or prejudiced… nor be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious Worship, Place or Ministry, contrary to his or their Mind, or to do or suffer any other Act or Thing, contrary to their religious Persuasion.
“And that all persons who also profess to believe in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, shall be capable (notwithstanding their other Persuasions and Practices in Point of Conscience and Religion) to serve this government in any capacity, both legislatively or executively, he or they solemnly promising, when lawfully required, allegiance to the King as Sovereign, and fidelity to the Proprietary and Governor, and taking the Attests as now established by the Law made at New Castle, in the Year One Thousand and Seven Hundred, entitled, An Act directing the Attests of several Officers and Ministers, as now amended and confirmed this present Assembly.”
William Penn’s Charter not only provided for religious liberty for the inhabitants of the Pennsylvania colony, but also required that only those who profess Jesus Christ may hold elected office. One of the reasons that the U.S. Constitution has a provision stating “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States” (Article 4, paragraph 3) is that most of the states already had such tests in place. Pennsylvania’s Charter is another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read James 1:17 and reflect on the description of God and William Penn’s description.
Prayer: Father of Lights and Spirits, we praise you as the object of all divine knowledge, faith and worship, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Frances Newton Thorpe, ed., Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies now or heretofore forming the United States, 7 vols. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1905-1909) 5:3076-78.
Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt was born on October 27, 1858 and became the 26th President of the United States (1901-09), the youngest man to hold the office at age 42. He assumed office after President William McKinley’s assassination. A native of New York and a graduate of Harvard, he was a pioneer conservationist and active member of the Dutch Reformed Church. He became famous as a Lieutenant Colonel in the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, known as the “Rough Riders,” becoming the hero of the Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba on July 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. Roosevelt is the only person in history to receive both the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest honor for military valor, and the Nobel Peace Prize, the world’s foremost prize for peace. Given his public stature at the time, it is not surprising that his likeness was sculpted as a part of Mount Rushmore.
On October 24, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt issued a Proclamation of a National Day of Praise and Thanksgiving:
“The season is at hand when according to the custom of our people it falls upon the President to appoint a day of praise and thanksgiving to God. During the last year the Lord has dealt bountifully with us, giving us peace at home and abroad and the chance for our citizens to work for their welfare unhindered by war, famine or plague. It behooves us not only to rejoice greatly because of what has been given us, but to accept it with a solemn sense of responsibility, realizing that under Heaven it rests with us ourselves to show that we are worthy to use aright what has thus been entrusted to our care.
“In no other place and at no other time has the experiment of government of the people, by the people, for the people, been tried on so vast a scale as here in our own country in the opening years of the 20th Century. Failure would not only be a dreadful thing for us, but a dreadful thing for all mankind, because it would mean loss of hope for all who believe in the power and the righteousness of liberty.
“Therefore, in thanking God for the mercies extended to us in the past, we beseech Him that He may not withhold them in the future, and that our hearts may be roused to war steadfastly for good and against all the forces of evil, public and private. We pray for strength, and light, so that in the coming years we may with cleanliness, fearlessness, and wisdom, do our allotted work on the earth in such a manner as to show that we are not altogether unworthy of the blessings we have received.”*
President Roosevelt’s proclamation of a “National Day of Praise and Thanksgiving” is yet another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Ephesians 5:18-21 and reflect on the combination of praise and thanks in Teddy Roosevelt’s proclamation.
Prayer: Father, our hearts are filled with praise and thanksgiving when we consider your blessing on our lives and our nation.
*Source Citation: James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 20 vols., (New York: Bureau of National Literature, Inc., 1923), 14:6782.
On Friday, October 26, 1781, the Journal of the Continental Congress reports that a committee, consisting of “Mr. Witherspoon, Mr. Montgomery, Mr. Varnum, Mr. Sherman,” was appointed to prepare a recommendation for setting apart a day of public thanksgiving and prayer in light of the momentous victory over the British at Yorktown, which was agreed to as follows:
“Whereas, it hath pleased Almighty God, the supreme Disposer of all Events, father of mercies, remarkably to assist and support the United States of America in their important struggle for liberty, against the long continued efforts of a powerful nation: it is the duty of all ranks to observe and thankfully acknowledge the interpositions of his Providence in their behalf. Through the whole of the contest, from its first rise to this time, the influence of divine Providence may be clearly perceived in many signal instances…and in which, after the success of our allies by sea, a General of the first Rank, with his whole army, has been captured by the allied forces under the direction of our illustrious Commander in Chief.
“It is therefore recommended to the several states to set apart the 13th day of December next, to be religiously observed as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer; that all the people may assemble on that day, with grateful hearts, to celebrate the praises of our gracious Benefactor; to confess our manifold sins; to offer up our most fervent supplications to the God of all grace [1 Peter 5:10], that it may please Him to pardon our offences, and incline our hearts for the future to keep all his laws; to comfort and relieve all our brethren who are in distress or captivity; to prosper our husbandmen, and give success to all engaged in lawful commerce; to impart wisdom and integrity to our counsellors, judgment and fortitude to our officers and soldiers; to protect and prosper our illustrious ally, and favor our united exertions for the speedy establishment of a safe, honorable and lasting peace; to bless all seminaries of learning; and cause the knowledge of God to cover the earth, as the waters cover the seas.”*
This proclamation was written by Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon, delegate from New Jersey, President of what is now Princeton, and a minister of the Gospel. The fact that Congress recommended that Americans set aside a “Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer” for their victory in the War for Independence is another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read 1 Peter 5:10 and reflect on Peter’s designation of the Lord as the “God of all Grace” and compare that with the words of the Proclamation by Congress.
Prayer: Father of mercies, we praise you as the God of all grace and ask with the Apostle Peter that you would perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle us. May we with gratitude recognize your loving hand of blessing, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Worthington C. Ford, ed., Journals of the Continental Congress 1774-1789, 34 vols., (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1907-37), 21:1074-76.