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 implore His protection and favor . . . .1
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the twenty-sixth day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these United States . . . that we then may all unite 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 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 now blessed. . . .
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, discretely 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 for the true religion and virtue, and the increase of science2 among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows best.
Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3rd of October, A.D. 1789.
—George Washington.3

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Footnotes

  1. For those readers around the world, today is Thanksgiving in the U.S. It was a holiday established by the first president of the United Stated to give thanks to God for all that He has done. This is from his declaration of the holiday in 1789. Back
  2. To understand more properly what Mr. Washington meant by science, it is good to understand the definition of the day, which is not the same as the modern definition. See Webster’s 1828 dictionary entry for science here: http://machaut.uchicago.edu/?resource=Webster%27s&word=science&use1828=on Back
  3. As quoted in William J. Federer, America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations (Coppell, Texas: Fame Publishing, Inc., 1994), p. 654. Back