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The first Thanksgiving Day proclaimed by the United States called upon Americans to thank almighty God for "his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation;…for the peaceful and rational manner in which we have been able to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly for the national One now lately instituted."
That first national Thanksgiving—Thursday, November 26, 1789—was proclaimed by President George Washington, fully conscious that he now presided over the realization of America’s more that century-and-a-half struggle to become a sovereign republic.
This was not the first day of thanksgiving Washington had declared. As commander-in-chief of the victorious Continental Army, he ordered a cessation of all hostilities with Britain on April 19, 1783 and instructed the army chaplains to hold services to “render thanks to almighty God”—eight years to the day after Massachusetts militiamen delivered the “shot heard ‘round the world” launching the American Revolution.