Appreciate your Thanksgiving while YOU Can


First Thanksgiving. Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899)

John R. Houk
© November 26, 2014
 
My childhood years were in the 1960s. I tend to remember the good times nostalgically more than times when this only child found himself in moments of parental discipline. For me the 60s might be viewed as a combination of “Leave it to Beaver” and “The Sandlot”.
 
 
 
 
Those videos reflect fun memories of a sixties childhood.
 
Now didn’t grow up in an overtly Christian household; however the lifestyle reflected prevalent values of most Americans whether or not they were Church-going. The memories that stand out often come down to holidays and vacations. Where I grew up Central Washington the month of November was typically the beginning of some cold days. Some of those cold days might even include some snow. As a kid I was not a big fan of horsing around in the cold. As Thanksgiving Day drew closer the days tended to be colder. Unless the kids in the neighborhood could coax me outside I was typically a couch potato during the cold.
 
Thanks largely to Grade School history lessons on Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims I became stoked for television specials with Thanksgiving themes. In those days those specials were numerous whether they were animation based or live action. Those stories of Thanksgiving were designed to imprint children with a favorable view of the holiday.
 
All that was a positive narrative of the Thanksgiving story were there: Pilgrim travels, the Mayflower voyage and learning to survive in the New World after landing on Plymouth Rock. The surviving part was typically portrayed as a rough winter, uncertain relation with Indians, Indian friendship, Indian mentoring and followed with the Pilgrims conquering their habitat ending with a feast of their farming success, wild turkey hunting and the Indians sharing of hunted deer.
 
The positive conclusion was giving thanks to God Almighty for prosperity, overcoming hardship and peace and harmony with the Pilgrims’ Indian neighbors. (I am fairly certain the Pilgrims would have no idea of what a Native American was. Indeed words that were not necessarily meant as a pejorative were probably closer to Savage, Red Man or Redskin. I wonder what appellations the Indians used for White America.) AND thus all’s well that ends well, right?
 
The reality is that bad things happened to the Pilgrims. They first fled to the Netherlands. Then cultural concerns pertaining to Pilgrim children assimilating into Dutch culture began to be a concern. Dutch culture was a bit looser than the Puritan-Separatist Christian culture promoted by the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims were experiencing Religious Freedom but their identity as faithful Christians was becoming compromised.
 
The Pilgrims fled England to escape the Religious intolerance of the Crown’s Church of England and now they intended to move again to escape the worldly influence of the Dutch majority. America became that choice. The Pilgrims thus organized to sail from the Netherlands back to England and on to the New World of America. They had to get a “patent or license” from a royal English company for land to colonize. The business venture the Pilgrims worked with was the Virginia Company of London.
 
The Pilgrims sought Crown permission for the religious liberty to practice their Puritan faith. The King did not specifically come through with the request, BUT neither did he deny it. The Pilgrims took the absence of religious instructions as a sign of favor and thus planned for the voyage.
 
The original contingent for the voyage was actually a mixture of the Puritan-Pilgrims and not so religious “adventurers”. The two components of the trip ultimately had different agendas upon landing and working with the patent to establish a company plantation.
 
The Pilgrims desired Religious Liberty and to be missionaries to the Native Americans. The adventurers were looking for a stake find economic self-sufficiency that wasn’t available in jolly old England. There was contention between the two groups. It didn’t help when the second ship of the venture forced the Mayflower to return to England because the second ship (Speedwell) would not have made it across the Atlantic Ocean without sinking. Pilgrims and adventurers not deterred by frustrated loaded up on the crowded Mayflower to sail to the Hudson Bay area.
 
The Mayflower made it to Cape Cod (the Plymouth Rock-Massachusetts area) after just a little over two months. Their Patent was for a location further north along the coast. Stormy seas prevent the Mayflower to make its destination. The Pilgrims thus decided to return to the Cape Cod area seeing the stormy whether as a sign from God.
 
The contention between the two groups eventually led to a dispute about the rules and who should obey them, especially they decided to build in a place outside their original patent. After a bit of disharmony the passengers of the Mayflower put together a compact that would be the foundation for self-government at least until the Patent issue was straightened out. The heads male heads of the Mayflower families signed the agreement as binding which became known as the Mayflower Compact:
 
IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience. IN WITNESS whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini; 1620.
 
To view signature go to the webpage. The above rendition has been updated to 21st Century English from the 17th English of the Pilgrims (Mayflower Compact: 1620; Agreement Between the Settlers at New Plymouth: 1620; The Avalon ProjectYale Law School)
 
Yeah take that Left Wing history revisionists. The Mayflower Compact is an example of other Charters, Patents and License dedicating government to God and King.
 
In the first years of the Plymouth Colony the form of government under God ironically resembled Socialism more than Free Market Capitalism. The Pilgrim placed all their food in a common store available to all equally. The fruits of the labor were also a part of this common store. The effect of this socialism was the lazy majority began to depend on the working few for sustenance. The first two years of the Plymouth Colony was the experience of the lack of food, which resulted in starvation, disease and death. Many of the colony became thieves and stole from the common store rather than work productively to perpetuate the utopian dream of equal sufficiency for all. The few working colonialists that suffered lack began to be frustrated when all their work was divided among the slacker majority.
 
But, with no shelter, and immune systems weakened by the rough voyage, they began to get sick. Colds became bronchitis, and pneumonia set in. The dreaded killer of ship’s passengers—scurvy—and other “wasting sicknesses” ravaged their number. With no effective medicines, they began to die. In January and February the deaths sometimes reached two and three a day; 17 dying in February alone. At one point, there were only five people well enough to be on their feet, caring for the rest. Toward the end of March, when the worst was over, they had lost 47 of their number. Of the 18 wives who had come, 13 had died. Only three families remained unbroken. They were in real trouble, for the food they had brought on the Mayflower was virtually gone, and they were facing an unhospitable wilderness. (The True History and Real Meaning of Thanksgiving; Posted by Sword At-The-Read; from Peter J. Marshall © 2007; posted 11/21/07)
 
Socialism wasn’t working! Hello President Barack Hussein Obama.
 
In the harvest feasts of 1621 and 1622, “all had their hungry bellies filled,” but only briefly. The prevailing condition during those years was not the abundance the official story claims, it was famine and death. The first “Thanksgiving” was not so much a celebration as it was the last meal of condemned men.
 
But in subsequent years something changes. The harvest of 1623 was different. Suddenly, “instead of famine now God gave them plenty,” Bradford wrote, “and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.” Thereafter, he wrote, “any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.” In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.
 
What happened?
 
After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, “they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop.” They began to question their form of economic organization.
 
This had required that “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means” were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.” A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out only what he needed.
 
This “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that “young men that are most able and fit for labor and service” complained about being forced to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children.” Also, “the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak.” So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.
 
To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines. (The Great Thanksgiving Hoax; By Richard J. Maybury; Mises Institute; 11/20/1999)
 
God enabling perseverance and Free Market thinking brought prosperity to the Pilgrims thus it probably wasn’t until the fruits of 1624 was there any real Thanksgiving.
 
The lessons of Thanksgiving are extremely important to our heritage as Americans.
 
Americans came to the New World to worship the Christian freely and to rely on strength to survive endowed by the Creator. God was and should always be thanked for overcoming struggles individually and corporately as a people.
 
Early Socialist-like experiments failed to succeed across the board in Colonial America.
 
Free Market Capitalism engendered individual self-sufficiency which in turn led trade in the community and outside the colony. The lazy self-entitled died while the thrifty individuals tied to their property succeeded.
 
Community standards were dedicated to Christian Morality instilling concepts of good and evil government in the rule of law.
 
Once America became a Republic, individual Presidents annually world declare a day of Thanksgiving before God for the peace and posterity of the USA. Apparently Abraham Lincoln had a religious epiphany while gazing to the Battle of Gettysburg graves leading to him to declare the last Thursday in November to a day of Thanksgiving in 1863. Each President after Lincoln followed suit with Lincoln’s last Thursday in November declaration. The 1941 Congress permanently made Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday of November a Federal Holiday. To this day in 2014 Thanksgiving is celebrated. Unless Separation of Church-State Leftists get their unconstitutional way by keeping the Christian faith out of government by an Obamination social transformation, our Republic will continue to have Thanksgiving.
 
Save the Republic of the United States of America from transformist thinking by keeping America free by holding these truths as self-evident: “… that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”. (Declaration of Independence, 1776)
 
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JRH 11/26/14

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Abundant Gratitude and Thanksgiving


Mark Alexander

Mark Alexander

Here is a Thanksgiving email sent by Mark Alexander of The Patriot Post which is also posted under Alexander’s Column. The column has a link to an essay about The History and Legacy of Thanksgiving. This is an enlightening essay that I doubt is taught in Public Schools these days due to the Liberal assault on the Christian links in America’s past and the imposition of revisionist history. I cross posting that essay after Mark Alexander’s email.

 

JRH 11/27/13

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Abundant Gratitude and Thanksgiving

 

By Mark Alexander

Sent: 11/27/2013 10:07 AM

From: The Patriot Post

 

I do recommend and assign Thursday … 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.” –George Washington (1789)

 

Please join me in welcoming this Thanksgiving week as an opportunity toFounding Documents - Patriot Post pause, step back, and reflect upon how blessed we really are — blessed far beyond any measure of what we deserve. Amid the contest for Liberty and the future of our nation, it is easy to become preoccupied with the challenges we face as a nation and neglect to take account of the full measure of the innumerable ways our Creator has blessed us and our great nation.

 

One of the ways God has richly blessed this unworthy servant is by allowing me to lead a team of Patriots endeavoring to keep the “flame of Liberty” burning bright for our countrymen across the nation and around the world. We are honored to share the burden of defending our inheritance of Liberty with millions of other Patriots, steadfast in that defense.

 

To put our national Day of Thanksgiving into proper context is to show gratitude for, in the words of George Washington, “the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”

 

With this in mind, I invite you to take a moment and reconsider the History and Legacy of our National Thanksgiving.

 

For some added inspiration from my home state of Tennessee, listen to My Beautiful America from fellow Tennessean, Charlie Daniels, or simply read its words.

 

In his first Thanksgiving proclamation, President Ronald Reagan wrote: “America has much for which to be thankful. The unequaled freedom enjoyed by our citizens has provided a harvest of plenty to this Nation throughout its history. In keeping with America’s heritage, one day each year is set aside for giving thanks to God for all of His blessings. … As we celebrate Thanksgiving … we should reflect on the full meaning of this day as we enjoy the fellowship that is so much a part of the holiday festivities. Searching our hearts, we should ask what we can do as individuals to demonstrate our gratitude to God for all He has done. Such reflection can only add to the significance of this precious day of remembrance. Let us recommit ourselves to that devotion to God and family that has played such an important role in making this a great Nation, and which will be needed as a source of strength if we are to remain a great people.”

 

Indeed.

 

Give the Gift of Liberty

“Liberty, once lost, is lost forever” – John Adams

Click Here to Find Out More – (Support our 2013 Year-End Campaign)

 

Fellow Patriots, I humbly thank you for the privilege of serving as editor and publisher of The Patriot Post. On behalf of your Patriot team and our National Advisory Committee, I wish you a peaceful Thanksgiving, and God’s blessings to you and your family.

 

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” –Psalm 100:4-5

 

Pro Deo et Constitutione — Libertas aut Mors
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis

Mark Alexander
Publisher,
The Patriot Post

 Thanksgiving from the Mountains of East Tennessee

Thanksgiving from the Mountains of East Tennessee

 

____________________________________

The History and Legacy of Thanksgiving

 

The Patriot Post

 

 

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” —Psalm 100:4-5

 First Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, as introduced by European explorers and settlers in the “New World,” was a time set aside specifically for the purpose of giving thanks to our Creator for His manifold blessings.

 

The earliest record of a thanksgiving in America is 1541 by Spanish explorer Coronado at Palo Duro Canyon in what is now Texas. French Protestant colonists at Charlesfort (now Parris Island, South Carolina) held a thanksgiving service in 1564. In 1607, the Jamestown settlers held thanksgiving at Cape Henry, Virginia, and there are many other records of such hallowed observances.

 

The first call for an annual Thanksgiving was at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia, in 1619, when Captain John Woodlief and 38 settlers aboard the ship Margaret, proclaimed, “Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacion in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

 

But the contemporary celebration of Thanksgiving across our nation has its roots in the first “harvest feast” celebrated in 1621 by religious refugees, Pilgrims, who established the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, in the year 1620. According to the fact that most history books following the War Between the States were written by Northern historians, it is that iconic event which is most directly associated with the current traditions for our national Day of Thanksgiving.

 

The Pilgrims

 

Who were these “freedom men”?

 

They were Puritan “separatists” — Calvinist Protestants, most under the leadership of pastor John Robinson, church elder William Brewster, and William Bradford. They rejected the institutional Church of England, believing that worshipping God must originate freely in the individual soul, without coercion.

 

Suffering persecution and imprisonment in England for their beliefs, these separatists fled to Holland in 1608. There, they found the spiritual liberty they sought, but amid a disjointed economy and a dissolute, degraded, corrupt culture that tempted their children to stray from faith. Determined to protect their families from such spiritual and cultural degradation, the Pilgrims returned to Plymouth, England, where they arranged for passage to the New World.

 

Their long and dangerous voyage was funded by the London Company, the “merchant adventurers” (investors) whose objective was to establish a communal plantation “company” upon which the “planters” would be obligated to work for seven years in order to return the investment with premium. “The adventurers & planters do agree that every person that goeth being aged 16 years & upward … be accounted a single share…. The persons transported & ye adventurers shall continue their joint stock & partnership together, ye space of 7 years … during which time, all profits & benefits that are got by trade, traffic, trucking, working, fishing, or any other means of any person or persons, remain still in ye common stock…. That all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provision out of ye common stock & goods…. That at ye end of ye 7 years, ye capital & profits, viz. the houses, lands, goods and chattels, be equally divided betwixt ye adventurers, and planters.”

 

On September 6th, 1620, aboard a 100 foot ship named Mayflower, 102 Pilgrims and 30 crew members departed for America, a place that offered the promise of both civil and religious liberty. Among those in command of the expedition were Christopher Martin, designated by the Merchant Adventurers to act as Governor, and Myles Standish, who would be the colony’s military leader.

 

After an arduous eight week journey, on November 11 they dropped anchor at Provincetown Harbor off the coast of what is now Massachusetts.

 

On 11 December 1620, prior to disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they signed the Mayflower Compact, America’s original document of civil government. It was the first to introduce self-government, and the foundation on which the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were built. Plymouth Colony’s Governor, William Bradford, described the Compact as “a combination … that when they came a shore (sic) they would use their owne libertie; for none had power to command them.”

 

The First Harvest Thanksgiving Feast

 

Upon making landfall, the Pilgrims conducted a prayer service and quickly turned to building shelters. They committed all their belongings to a “comone wealth.” Under harrowing conditions, the colonists persisted through prayer and hard work, but the Winter of 1621 was devastating and only 53 of the original party survived. William Bradford wrote, “of these one hundred persons who came over in this first ship together, the greatest half died in the general mortality, and most of them in two or three months’ time.”

 

However, with the help of the indigenous “Indians” in the region, the summer of 1621 was productive as recorded by Bradford in his diary: “They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to the proportion.”

 

In addition to their regular expressions of reverence and thanksgiving to God, by the Autumn of 1621 the surviving 53 Pilgrims had enough produce to hold a three day “harvest feast.” That feast was described in the journal of Edward Winslow: “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

 

The Pilgrims endured another harsh winter, but had put up enough stores to survive.

 

The Collectivist Plantation Plan

 

Endeavoring to improve the production at Plymouth Plantation for its second growing season in 1622, Governor Bradford implemented a collectivist policy, and noted that to increase production, he allotted each family a plot of land, and mandated that “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means” must be forfeited to a common storehouse in order that “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.”

 

In theory, their Governor thought the colony would thrive because each family would receive equal share of produce without regard to their contribution. Unfortunately, then as always, collectivism only works in theory, and the new policy almost destroyed the Plymouth settlement. Indeed, collectivism is antithetical to human nature, and destined to fail, as Plato’s student Aristotle observed in 350 BC: “That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it.” But to this day, many still fail to grasp the “tragedy of the commons.”

 

After abysmal results in 1622, Bradford realized that his collectivist plan had undermined the incentive to produce. He wrote, “The failure of that experiment of communal service … the taking away of private property, and the possession of it in community, by a commonwealth … was found to breed much confusion and discontent; and retard much employment which would have been to the general benefit…. For the young men who were most able and fit for service objected to being forced to spend their time and strength in working for other men’s wives and children, without any recompense…. The strong man or the resourceful man had no more share of food, clothes, etc., than the weak man who was not able to do a quarter the other could. This was thought injustice. The aged and graver men, who were ranked and equalized in labor, food, clothes, etc., with the humbler and younger ones, thought it some indignity and disrespect to them.”

 

The women “who were obliged to do service for other men, such as cooking, washing their clothes, etc., they considered it a kind of slavery, and many husbands would not brook it….”

 

“If all were to share alike, and all were to do alike,” wrote Bradford, “then all were on an equality throughout, and one was as good as another; and so, if it did not actually abolish those very relations which God himself has set among men, it did at least greatly diminish the mutual respect that is so important should be preserved amongst them. Let none argue that this is due to human failing, rather than to this communistic plan of life in itself….”

 

The Free Enterprise Plan

 

Responding to the failed economic plantation plan, the Colony leaders “began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery,” Bradford recorded in his journal. “At length after much debate of things, (I) (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land.”

 

They decided to trade their collectivist plan for a free market approach, and in 1623, Bradford wrote, “This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any other means the Governor or any other could use. … Women went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn. Instead of famine now God gave them plenty and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many. … Any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.”

 

Property ownership and families freely laboring on their own behalf replaced the “common store,” but only after their ill-advised experiment with communism nearly wiped out the entire settlement.

 

The Colony celebrated a much greater Harvest and Thanksgiving Day in 1623 as called for by Bradford’s proclamation:

 

“Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience. Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”

 

After the Pilgrims were given liberty and incentive to be industrious, the Colony thrived, and by 1624, production was so abundant that the Colony exported corn back to England. For generations since, to the extent men have been set at perfect liberty to establish free enterprise, to produce goods and services without having profits seized for redistribution, our nation has thrived.

 

The Pilgrims’ Legacy of Civil Liberty

 

The Puritans seeded democratic self government and free enterprise in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, but demonstrated much of the same religious intolerance they had fled in England. Having broken ground for religious Liberty, at least for themselves, in the 20 years following the establishment of Plymouth Plantation, more than 25,000 men, women and children followed them to the New World, seeking first and foremost, religious Liberty. The second great immigration of Puritans came after Charles II was restored to the Crown in 1660, and Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan reformists fled for their lives. They brought with them a much more legalistic religious intolerance, and displayed bigotry for those who did not practice there (sic) particular Christian traditions and practices.

 

However, the promise of civil and religious Liberty drew hundreds of thousands of other seekers to east coast settlements, and they formed the bedrock of our nation. The crossroads of civil and religious Liberty was outlined in the central tenant of our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

 

That eternal truth is the basis for the enumerated restrictions against government outlined in the First Amendment of our Constitution’s Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The prohibition against any “establishment of religion” appears first in order of importance, because our nation was largely founded by those seeking Liberty from oppression of the wedded church and state of England.

 

Though we are not a “Christian nation” as some would suggest, clearly most of our Founders understood that American Liberty has its roots in the Liberty of the Christian Gospel. The Father of our Country, George Washington, wrote, “To the distinguished Character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to add the more distinguished Character of Christian. The signal Instances of providential Goodness which we have experienced and which have now almost crowned our labours with complete Success, demand from us in a peculiar manner the warmest returns of Gratitude and Piety to the Supreme Author of all Good.”

 

Historic American Thanksgiving Proclamations

 

During the American Revolutionary War the Continental Congress designated days of thanksgiving each year. The First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was made in 1777:

 

“FOR AS MUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence; but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success: It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE: That it may please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.”

 

Of that proclamation, Samuel Adams wrote to another Declaration signer, Richard Henry Lee, noting the specificity of the language that, “the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and join … their supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ.”

 

In 1789, after adopting the Bill of Rights to our Constitution, among the first official acts of Congress was approving a motion for proclamation of a national day of thanksgiving, recommending that citizens gather together and give thanks to God for their new nation’s blessings.

 

The first Thanksgiving Day designated by the United States of America was proclaimed by George Washington on October 3, 1789:

 

“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 tranquility, 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 shown 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.”

 

Then-governor Thomas Jefferson followed with this 1789 proclamation in Virginia: “[I] appoint … a day of public Thanksgiving to Almighty God … to [ask] Him that He would … pour out His Holy Spirit on all ministers of the Gospel; that He would … spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth; and that He would establish these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue.”

 

Governor John Hancock proclaimed, “[I] appoint … a day of public thanksgiving and praise … to render to God the tribute of praise for His unmerited goodness towards us … [by giving to] us … the Holy Scriptures which are able to enlighten and make us wise to eternal salvation. And [to] present our supplications … that He would forgive our manifold sins and cause the benign religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be known, understood, and practiced among all the inhabitants of the earth.”

 

Thanksgiving celebrations were irregularly proclaimed in the years that followed until the War Between the States. After 1863, presidents issued annual proclamations of Thanksgiving.

 

Norman Rockwell, 1943 - American Thanksgiving

Norman Rockwell, 1943

 

In 1941, with World War II on the horizon, the Senate and House approved the fourth Thursday of November as a National Day of Thanksgiving, perpetuating the observance annually

 

Thanksgiving and our Legacy of Liberty

 

Appropriately crediting the Pilgrims for chartering the path of American Liberty through self government, President Ronald Reagan made frequent reference to John Winthrop’s “shining city upon a hill.”

 

As Reagan explained, “The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free.”

 

Closing his farewell address in 1989, President Reagan asked, “And how stands the city on this winter night?”

 

Contemplating our Legacy of Liberty this Thanksgiving, more than two decades after President Reagan left office, how stands the city on our watch?

 

My fellow Patriots, never in the history of our country has there been such an acute, coordinated and vicious assault upon Liberty and the Rule of Law enshrined in our Constitution. From individuals, to state governments, to federal institutions initiated at the dawn of our Constitution, nothing, absolutely nothing, is sacred to the current statist hegemony seeking to dispense with our Constitution.

 

But take heart, for as George Washington wrote in the darkest days of our American Revolution, “We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times.”

 

Of such exertions, Washington wrote, “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 favors.”

 

Of the incredible obstacles overcome in the American Revolution to establish Liberty, Washington declared, “The hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.”

 

So it is that on Thanksgiving Day, we are called to pause and take respite in order to acknowledge the gift of Liberty as “endowed by our Creator,” and the Divine intervention throughout the history of this great nation; in order to recommit ourselves to obeisance of His will; in order to express our gratitude and give Him all thanks and praise for the bounty which He has bestowed the United States of America — land of the free, home of the brave, that shining city on the hill; and in order to all the more humbly implore that He protect us and grant us much favor in our coming struggle to re-establish Rule of Law over rule of men.

 

In his first Thanksgiving proclamation, President Reagan wrote: “America has much for which to be thankful. The unequaled freedom enjoyed by our citizens has provided a harvest of plenty to this Nation throughout its history. In keeping with America’s heritage, one day each year is set aside for giving thanks to God for all of His blessings. … As we celebrate Thanksgiving … We should reflect on the full meaning of this day as we enjoy the fellowship that is so much a part of the holiday festivities. Searching our hearts, we should ask what we can do as individuals to demonstrate our gratitude to God for all He has done. Such reflection can only add to the significance of this precious day of remembrance. Let us recommit ourselves to that devotion to God and family that has played such an important role in making this a great Nation, and which will be needed as a source of strength if we are to remain a great people.

 

This is the genuine spirit of Thanksgiving.

 

I humbly thank you for the honor and privilege of serving you as editor and publisher of The Patriot Post. On behalf of your Patriot team and our National Advisory Committee, I wish you a peaceful Thanksgiving, and God’s blessings to you and your family.

 

If you have the means, please take a moment to promote Liberty by supporting our Patriot Annual Campaign today.

 

Pro Deo et Constitutione — Libertas aut Mors
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis

 

Mark Alexander

Publisher, The Patriot Post

 

Take the Thanksgiving Quiz

 

For inspiration, read the text of Charlie Daniel’s My Beautiful America or listen to the song.

 

For perspective, view “We still hold these truths.”

 

(Note: The original version of this Thanksgiving account was published by Mark Alexander in November 2000. Please forward a link to this page to your family, friends and colleagues.)

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Abundant Gratitude and Thanksgiving

 

And

 

The History and Legacy of Thanksgiving

 

*PUBLIUS*

 

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