On February 19, 1795, Bishop James Madison, President of William and Mary, responded to President George Washington’s call for a National Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer by preaching a sermon entitled “Manifestation of the Beneficence of Divine Providence towards America,” which was later published. In this message, Madison declared:
“Suppose, my brethren, when our forefathers here first rested the soles of their feet…the guardian Angel of America, free, independent, and holding an eminent rank among the nations of the earth; had shewn them her sons and daughters, numerous as the stars of heaven, assembled in the houses of their God, and with one voice, offering up their grateful incense of adoration, praise and thanksgiving, ‘for the great things he hath done for them’[Psalm 126:2]…”
Bishop Madison’s message on the National Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer is another lost episode in American history.
*Source Citation: Bishop James Madison, Manifestation of the Beneficence of Divine Providence towards America – a Discourse, Delivered on Thursday the 19th of February, 1795, Being the Day Recommended by the President of the United States, for General Thanksgiving and Prayer, (Richmond: Thomas Nicolson, 1795), as found in Ellis Sandoz, ed., Political Sermons of the American Founding Era: 1730-1805, 2 vols., (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 1998), 2:1313. Bracketed item added.