On Thursday, September 24, 1789, the First House of Representatives recommended the First Amendment to the states for ratification. Congressman Elias Boudinot proposed that Congress jointly request that President Washington proclaim a day of thanksgiving for “the many signal favors of Almighty God.” He “could not think of letting the session pass over without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining, with one voice, in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the blessings he had poured down upon them.” The colonists of another era were aware of the many instances of thanksgiving found in “holy writ.” Thanksgiving, as it was practiced by the colonists, was a religious celebration that shared the sentiments of their biblical forerunners, giving thanks to God for His faithful provision. “Twice en route the passengers [aboard the Arabella] participated in a fast, and once a ‘thanksgiving.'”
One of the earliest recorded celebrations occurred a half century before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth. A small colony of French Huguenots established a settlement near present-day Jacksonville, Florida. On June 30, 1564, their leader, René de Laudonnière, recorded that “We sang a psalm of Thanksgiving unto God, beseeching Him that it would please Him to continue His accustomed goodness towards us.” May we do likewise this day as we gather together with our families and thank God for continuing to bless our nation.