When people think about Thanksgiving, they probably picture the Pilgrims. That’s a major part of Thanksgiving’s history, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
Before it became a federal holiday, Thanksgiving was a day appointed by Congress, the President, or the state legislatures or governors.
Early in our nation’s history, Congress sometimes appointed more than one day of prayer of thanksgiving in a given year. That’s because Thanksgiving wasn’t simply a time for eating turkey. It was a time for prayer. Virtually every early thanksgiving proclamation includes calls for prayer along with fasting, corporate worship, confession of sin, and so on.
We have posted several of these proclamations as part of our Words From Our Founders series on our Family Council website. You can find excerpts from a few Thanksgiving proclamations issued from 1775 to 1813 by clicking here. I hope they give you an idea of what Thanksgiving was meant to be in this country.
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Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.