George Washington, November 18, 1775, General Orders
“…The Honorable the Legislature of this Colony having thought fit to set apart Thursday the 23d of November Instant, as a day of public thanksgiving “to offer up our praises, and prayers to Almighty God, the Source and Benevolent Bestower of all good; That he would be pleased graciously to continue, to smile upon our Endeavours, to restore peace, preserve our Rights, and Privileges, to the latest posterity; prosper the American Arms, preserve and strengthen the Harmony of the United Colonies, and avert the Calamities of a civil war.” The General therefore commands that day to be observed with all the Solemnity directed by the Legislative Proclamation, and all Officers, Soldiers and others, are hereby directed, with the most unfeigned Devotion, to obey the same….”
[The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.]
Journals of the Continental Congress, “to set apart a day of thanksgiving. . . . through the merits of Jesus Christ…”, Nov. 1, 1777
Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 8,
Henry Laurens to the States,
1st November 1777,
The Arms of the United States of America having been blessed in the present Campaign with remarkable Success, Congress have Resolved to recommend that one day, Thursday the 18th December next be Set apart to be observed by all Inhabitants throughout these States for a General thanksgiving to Almighty God. And I have it in command to transmit to you the inclosed extract from the minutes of Congress for that purpose.(1)
Your Excellency or Honour will be pleased to take the necessary measures for carrying the Resolve into effect in the State in which you preside. You will likewise find inclosed a Certified Copy of a minute which will Shew your Excellency the Authority under which I have the honour of addressing you.(2)
I am with great Esteem & regard, Sir, Your Excellencys most Obt. L Servt.
LB (DNA: PCC, item 13). Addressed: “Circular, by Express Messengers.”
1 See JCC, 9:854 55
2 This day Laurens was elected John Hancock’s successor as president of Congress. JCC,
George Washington, General Orders
Head Quarters, White Marsh, November 30, 1777.
Parole Northampton. Countersigns Greenland, Portsmouth.
On the 25th of November instant, the Honorable Continental Congress passed the following resolve, vizt:
Resolved. That General Washington be directed to publish in General orders, that Congress will speedily take into consideration the merits of such officers as have distinguished themselves by their intrepidity and their attention to the health and discipline of their men; and adopt such regulations as shall tend to introduce order and good discipline into the army, and to render the situation of the officers and soldiery, with respect to cloathing and other necessaries, more eligible than it has hitherto been.
Forasmuch as it is the indispensible duty of all men, to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligations to him for benefits received, and to implore such further 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 defence of our unalienable rights and liberties.78
[Note 78: This preliminary statement was taken from the resolve of Congress of November 1 recommending the States to set apart a day of Thanksgiving. It was to Washington on November 7 and answered by him on November 10.]
It is therefore recommended by Congress, that Thursday the 18th. day of December next be set apart 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 acknowledgements and offerings they may join the penitent confession of their sins; and supplications for such further blessings as they stand in need of. The Chaplains will properly notice this recommendation, that the day of thanksgiving may be duly observed in the army, agreeably to the intentions of Congress.