On October 3, 1789, America’s first President under the 1787 Constitution, George Washington, issued a historic Thanksgiving Proclamation. Congress had instructed him 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.” This he did. Many consider this the nation’s first Thanksgiving Proclamation. But was it? Well, that depends.
There had been many previous days of a general giving of thanks in America’s history, some bearing little relation to our present holiday. Many took place long before America was a country, under the reign of the monarchs of England.