Thanksgiving Proclamation, President George Washington

Thanksgiving Proclamation

New York, 3 October 1789

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 tranquillity, 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.

Go: Washington

Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving – Stephen McDowell

Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving

 Stephen McDowell

    Innumerable blessings have been bestowed upon the United States of America. Concerning these blessings President Lincoln wrote: “No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.” President Lincoln went on to set apart the last Thursday of November as “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”1

    While President Lincoln established America’s official Thanksgiving holiday in 1863, it was the Pilgrims who first celebrated a day of Thanksgiving in this land in 1621 and who set an example that many followed in the succeeding years.2

As the Pilgrims gathered their harvest in the autumn of 1621 and looked back over the preceding year, they had so much for which to be thankful that they decided to set aside a day of Thanksgiving unto God, Whom they acknowledged as the Giver of all blessings and the only reason for their survival. It was indeed a miracle that they did survive their first year in the wilderness of New England and had a good harvest. Desire for a home where they could freely worship God, and the desire to “propagate… the Gospel of the kingdom of Christ” and be stepping stones for others to do the same, motivated a band of Christians later called Pilgrims) to set out on a hazardous voyage to plant a colony in the new world of America.

After sixty-six perilous days at sea, where the storms were so great that they were blown unknowingly hundreds of miles north of their intended destination, they reached Cape Cod. The captain attempted to sail south to Virginia, but the weather forced them to settle in New England. They later learned that the site they chose for a settlement – Plymouth – had been the home of the Patuxet Indians. Had they arrived a few years earlier, there would have been no place for them to settle, but a plague had mysteriously wiped out the Patuxet tribe in 1617, and no other tribe would settle in the area for fear of the same thing occurring to them.

Winter had already set in as they started to build houses to protect themselves from the unrelenting cold. Scurvy and other diseases began to infect the settlers due to the long voyage, lack of provisions, and unaccommodating conditions People began to die so rapidly that in two or three months’ time only half of the original 102 persons remained. While this was quite a tragedy, they still fared much better than the early settlers at Jamestown, who saw nine out of ten persons die in the first years of colonization.

During this dark winter in America, the Christian character of the Pilgrims shone brightly. At the time of greatest distress, there were only six or seven persons strong enough to move about. With the sick they “spared no pains night nor day, but with abundance of toil and hazard of their health, fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed them meat, made their beds, washed their loathsome clothes clothed and unclothed them; in a word, did all the homely and necessary offices for them which dainty and queasy stomachs cannot endure to hear named; and all this willingly and cheerfully, without any grudging in the least, showing herein their true love unto their friends and brethren. A rare example and worthy to be remembered.”3

Though half of their number survived, the prospects of the coming year looked very bleak – they were surrounded by Indians, some hostile, they were short of food and supplies, and they knew little of how to survive in the American wilderness. But to their astonishment, and gratitude to God, an English-speaking Indian named Squanto came among them, took them under his care, and taught them how to survive in the new land.

He showed them how to plant corn, assuring its growth by setting it with fish; he taught them how to catch fish and the times when they could find the creeks stocked with fish (for the Pilgrims had only caught one cod in the preceding four months); he taught them to stalk deer, plant pumpkins, find berries, and catch beaver, whose pelts proved to be their economic deliverance.

Squanto was also helpful in securing a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and surrounding Indian tribes, which lasted over fifty years. In the words of William Bradford, “Squanto… was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation.”4 His life story is amazing in itself.

In 1605, Squanto, a member of the Patuxet Indian tribe, was captured by an English explorer and taken to England. He remained there nine years, during which time he learned to speak English. In 1614, Captain John Smith took him back to New England, but shortly after this he was again taken captive and sold into slavery at a port in Spain. Providentially, some local friars bought and rescued him.

From Spain, he eventually went to England where he remained until 1619, when he obtained passage back to his home in New England. As Squanto went ashore at what was to become Plymouth, he found his entire tribe had been killed by a plague. He was the only survivor of the Patuxet tribe. Joining himself to a nearby tribe, he remained there until the spring of 1621 when he joined himself with the Pilgrims, determining to see them survive at the place where his tribe had not.5

Thanks to God, his instrument Squanto, and the character and determination of the Pilgrims, half of them had survived an unimaginably difficult first year. Moreover, they harvested a sufficient food supply for their second winter at Plymouth. Even though there was no surplus food, things looked much better than the preceding winter.

Governor Bradford appointed a day of Thanksgiving and invited the nearby Wampanoag Indians (Squanto’s adopted tribe) to celebrate and give thanks unto God with them. Chief Massasoit and ninety of his men came and feasted with the Pilgrims. They ate deer, turkey, fish, lobster, eels, vegetables, corn bread, herbs, berries, pies, and the Indians even taught the Pilgrims how to make popcorn. The Pilgrims and Indians also competed in running, wrestling, and shooting games. Massasoit enjoyed himself so much that he and his men stayed for three days.6 It is easy to see where the American tradition of feasting at Thanksgiving began.

While many people today follow the Pilgrim’s example of feasting at Thanksgiving, they too often ignore the entire reason that the Pilgrims set aside a special day – that was to give thanks to Almighty God and acknowledge their utter dependence upon Him for their existence. While many today take ease in having plenty, never seeing a need to cry out to God, the Pilgrims relied upon God in their lack and thanked Him in their abundance. Their trust was in God and not in their abundant provisions. This was seen even more fully in the two years following their first Thanksgiving.

Shortly after their Thanksgiving celebration, thirty-five new persons unexpectedly arrived who planned to remain and live at Plymouth. These being family and friends brought much rejoicing, but when they found out they had no provisions it also brought a soberness. Yet their reliance was upon God, so they gladly shared their food, clothing, and homes. With the new additions, their food, even at half allowance for each person, would last six months at most.

Their provisions had almost completely run out when they spied a boat in May of 1622. They hoped the English Company who had sponsored their colonizing Plymouth had sent provisions; however, this boat not only did not bring any food (nor the hope of any), but seven more hungry people to stay in Plymouth. In their extreme hunger, as in times of plenty, they put their complete trust in God to provide.

No one starved to death yet, it would be over a year before famine was completely removed from their midst. During that time there were many days where they “had need to pray that God would give them their daily bread above all people in the world.”7

That spring and summer of 1622 God miraculously fed them, even as the ravens fed Elijah in the wilderness. He provided because the Pilgrims had determined to walk in the way of their Lord Jesus. This was most evident in early summer when sixty “lusty” men (as Bradford called them) came to them for help. Even though these men showed no gratitude, the Pilgrims still gladly took care of them, for many were sick. They gave them housing and shared their meager provisions. This they did for almost the entire summer until the men left.

Like the year before, the harvest of 1622 proved insufficient to meet the Pilgrims’ needs. Outside help appeared doubtful, so the Pilgrims considered how they could produce a larger harvest. Through God’s wisdom they chose to replace the collective farming they had practiced the two preceding years (being imposed upon them by their sponsoring company) with individual farming, assigning to every family a parcel of land.

Bradford wrote: “This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than other wise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use… and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn, which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and.”8 As they were freed from economic communism and entered into individual enterprise, abundance began to come upon these people.

The Pilgrims learned the hard way that communism doesn’t work, even among a covenant community. Bradford wrote that “the experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Platos & other ancients, applauded by some of later times; – that the taking away of property, and bringing in community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.”9

The Pilgrims’ hard work, resulting from them being able to directly benefit from the fruit of their labors, caused them to plant about six times more crops than the previous year. While labor certainly increases our prosperity, there are other factors. God wanted the Pilgrims to never forget that it is the Lord that gives men the power to get substance or wealth (Deut. 8:18).

The Pilgrims had great hopes for a large crop, yet as Bradford wrote, “the Lord seemed to blast, & take away the same, and to threaten further & more sore famine unto them, by a great drought which continued from the 3. week in May, till about the middle of July, without any rain and with great heat (for the most part) insomuch as the corn began to wither away.”10

In response to this, “they set a part a solemn day of humiliation to seek the Lord by humble & fervent prayer, in this great distress. And he was pleased to give them a gracious & speedy answer, both to their own & the Indians admiration, that lived amongst them. For all the morning, and greatest part of the day, it was dear weather & very hot, and not a cloud or any sign of rain to be seen, yet toward evening it began to overcast, and shortly after to rain, with such sweet and gentle showers, as gave them cause of rejoicing, & blessing God. It came, without either wind, or thunder, or any violence, and by degrees in that abundance, as that the earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith. Which did so apparently revive & quicken the decayed corn & other fruits, as was wonderful to see, and made the Indians astonished to behold.”11

An Indian named Hobamak who witnessed this event said to a Pilgrim: “Now I see that the Englishman’s God is a good God, for he hath heard you, and sent you rain, and that without storms and tempests and thunder, which usually we have with our rain, which breaks down our corn, but yours stands whole and good still; surely your God is a good God.”12

The harvest of 1623 brought plenty to each person, with the more industrious having excess to sell to others. From the time they started a biblical economic system, no famine or general want ever again existed among them.

That autumn of 1623, the Pilgrims again set apart a day of Thanksgiving unto God. They had much to give thanks for and knew Who to acknowledge.

Each year when we celebrate Thanksgiving, let us remember the heritage of that day and why the Pilgrims, as well as President Lincoln set aside a day of Thanksgiving. In the words of Lincoln, proclaiming the second National Thanksgiving Day: this is “a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe.”13

End Notes

  1. A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Vol. 8 (New York: Bureau of National Literature, Inc., 1897), p. 3374.
  2. Some colonists in Virginia actually observed the first Thanksgiving celebration in America. This occurred at the Berkeley plantation in 1619. It is the Pilgrims, however, who provide us with the tradition of a Thanksgiving celebration. Lincoln’s proclamation for a day of thanksgiving was certainly not a new event in our history, for various colonies, congresses, and presidents have made many such proclamations throughout our history.
  3. William Bradford, Of Plimoth Plantation (Boston: Wright & Porter Printing, 1901), p. 111. Spelling has been changed to modern usage in this and the other quotes from Bradford.
  4. Ibid., p. 116.
  5. Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Light and the Glory (Old Tappon, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1977), pp. 130-132. See also, Bradford, pp. 116-117; and Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims of Plymouth (Plymouth, MA: Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1985), p. 48.
  6. Mourt’s Relation, pp. 72-73; Marshall and Manuel, pp. 135-136; see also, The Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony, by the editors of American Heritage (New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., 1961), pp. 102-103.
  7. Bradford, p. 164.
  8. Ibid., p. 162.
  9. Ibid., p. 163.
  10. Ibid, p. 170.
  11. Ibid., p. 170-171.
  12. Nathaniel Morton, New England Memorial, pp. 64-65.
  13. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Vol. 8, pp. 3429-3430.

Protecting and Defending the Constitution

Thank you Mr. President for honoring your oath of office by protecting and defending the original intention of the Constitution of the United States of America!

CftC

The Verdict Is in on Trump’s Judges

November 13, 2017

    If Republicans don’t appreciate Donald Trump now, they will later. That’s when his biggest accomplishment — the courts — will reap the most rewards. For the last 10 months, the White House has been working at a frantic pace to confirm originalist judges, a quest that’s not only making history — but securing it.

Not since Richard Nixon has any president moved faster or more strategically on judicial nominees than Donald Trump. And while the Supreme Court is what captures most people’s attention, the real work is being done a step below — on the appellate level. That’s where, experts say, the real genius comes in.

In a fascinating article, even the New York Times can’t help but notice (with reluctant admiration) how the Trump team has intentionally gone about balancing the courts from the Obama years. “There has never been anything like what we’ve been able to do together with judges,” the president said recently. He’s right. By filling the appellate courts with constitutionalists, Trump’s team is making sure that Americans get a fair shake from the judges who hand down the majority of the country’s rulings. As the Times points out, “The 12 regional appeals courts wield profound influence over Americans’ lives, getting the final word on about 60,000 cases a year that are not among the roughly 80 the Supreme Court hears.”

While most of the country only tunes in to the SCOTUS fights, the reality is that most of these hot-button issues are being decided in the circuit courts below. That makes the president’s focus all the more important. In its interesting article, “Trump is rapidly reshaping the judiciary. Here’s how,” the Times explains that this plan dates back to last year, when legal experts huddled to talk about a “secret battle plan to fill the federal appeals courts with young and deeply conservative judges.” With the help of Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Republicans have delivered plenty of victories on that front, confirming eight — with more on the horizon. Thanks to Grassley, the Senate has kept up with the White House’s frantic pace, despite the Democrats’ stalling tactics.

And while the GOP is used to obstruction from Democrats, it was surprised to see some from its own party. For reasons few understand, Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) is standing in the way of Trump’s ninth federal court win — Kyle Duncan, the White House’s pick for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. In a rare move, the senator from my home state refuses to endorse Duncan, a man many call a “conservative superstar.” As a solicitor general and law firm partner, he expertly tackled some of the most difficult issues, including marriage, the HHS mandate, bathroom bills, and gender identity. The Judicial Crisis Network calls him “one of the best lawyers of his generation.” I would hope that Senator Kennedy would join his fellow Republicans in moving on Duncan’s confirmation — and send another stellar judge to the bench.

In the meantime, conservatives who said the courts were the deciding factor in the 2016 elections have to be happy with the results. Even the New York Times can’t help but notice: “Mr. Trump is poised to bring the conservative legal movement… to a new peak of influence over American law and society.”

For more on the president’s judicial accomplishments (and otherwise), cut through the fake news with this Daily Wire’s column, “Trump’s First Year in Office Has Been Wildly Successful.”

Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

 

Trump’s First Year In Office Has Been Wildly Successful

 Branden Camp / Stringer

Michael J. Knowles

November 10, 2017

    A full 365 days of covfefe have passed since Hillary Clinton grudgingly conceded the 2016 presidential election. According to Democrat press releases and the mainstream media — but I repeat myself — the nation lies in ruins. Reality tells a different story.

    On the economic front, consumer confidence has hit its highest level in 17 years. Over one million jobs have been created. The post-election stock market rally is the second largest since the Kennedy administration. The destructive tariffs and trade wars conservatives feared have not materialized. Tax reform awaits congressional Republicans’ whipping the votes.

On the so-called social issues, Trump repealed the Obama mandate that forced states to fund Planned Parenthood, and he reinstated the Mexico City Policy that protects U.S. taxpayers from having to fund abortions overseas. Unlike his predecessor, Trump has refrained from refashioning the White House into a giant glowing rainbow to celebrate activist judges’ abuse of the Constitution. Quite to the contrary, Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, an originalist justice in the tradition Antonin Scalia. He’s also appointed 12 other textualist judges to the lower courts, and many others who await confirmation.

On immigration, President Trump has added more agents to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He’s expanded deportation priorities, moved to end Barack Obama’s executive amnesty program DACA, and signed an executive order directing the Justice Department to defund sanctuary cities. As a result, illegal immigration rates across our southern border have dropped to a 45-year low, according to the acting chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. On corruption, Trump has imposed a five-year ban on lobbying the government by former White House officials and a lifetime ban on lobbying for foreign governments by former White House officials.

On foreign policy, while we were promised President Trump would recklessly plunge us into nuclear war, instead he’s wrangled trade concessions and collaboration on North Korea out of China. Trump ably handled Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s chemical test of American resolve five years after Barack Obama failed to follow American threats with action. Trump oversaw the return of American high school student Otto Warmbier from North Korea, dropped the “Mother Of All Bombs” on ISIS, over which Syria just yesterday declared victory. He approved the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines after years of Obama-era red tape and pulled the United States out of the environmentally ineffectual Paris Climate Accord. Obama’s strategies of “strategic patience” in North Korea and “leading from behind” in the Middle East are finished.

On the environment, at the EPA Scott Pruitt has overturned 52 burdensome regulations. While a net 13,000 new federal restrictions have been added annually for the past 20 years, under Trump, the number of net new regulations sits around zero. The New York Times, a “former newspaper”, summed it up in May: “Trump Discards Obama Legacy, One Rule at a Time,” including Barack Obama’s disastrous so-called Clean Power Plan, which as the Heritage Foundation explains, would have resulted in higher energy prices, fewer jobs, less growth; disproportionately hurt poor families; and offered virtually no environmental benefit.

Most important of all, Trump has cracked the patina of credibility that Democrat operatives masquerading as journalists once enjoyed and “sophisticated” Republicans once indulged. As a result, nearly two-thirds of Americans now recognize that mainstream outlets shill for Democrats rather than present unbiased reporting. And Hollywood lies in rubble as the preening moralizers who hold their countrymen in contempt are caught, literally, with their pants down.

All in all, an unexpectedly covfefe year. And if you’ve enjoyed all of these improvements — the protection of our First and Second Amendment from the claws of Hillary’s Supreme Court pick, less government, more freedom, and credibility abroad — thank a Trump voter.