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Samuel Adams' Thanksgiving Proclamation
by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Known as “The Father of the American Revolution” due to his leadership role in opposing the acts of the British Parliament leading up to the break with England, Samuel Adams was a quintessential Founder of the Republic. Serving as a member of the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1781, Adams was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and helped in the drafting of the Articles of Confederation. He also served as a member of his home state’s convention to ratify the federal Constitution. While Governor of Massachusetts, Adams issued several proclamations to his fellow citizens, calling for days of “public thanksgiving” to be directed to God. Like the bulk of the Founders, Samuel Adams had no hesitation in offering his devotion and praise to God and Christ. The following was issued from the Council Chamber in Boston on October 6, 1796:

PROCLAMATION. OCTOBER 6, 1796.

[Independent Chronicle, October 17, 1796.]

Published by Authority [Seal] Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

BY THE GOVERNOR.

A Proclamation For A Day Of Public Thanksgiving.

Whereas it has pleased God, the Father of all Mercies, to bestow upon us innumerable unmerited favours in the course of the year past; it highly becomes us duly to recollect his goodness, and in a public and solemn manner to express the greatful feelings of our hearts :

I have therefore thought fit, with the advice and consent of the Council, to appoint Thursday the 15th day of December next, to be observed as a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Praise to our Divine Benefactor throughout this Commonwealth—Calling upon the Ministers of the Gospel, with their respective Congregations, and the whole body of the People, religiously to observe the said Day by celebrating the Praises of that all-gracious Being, of whose Bounty we have experienced so large a share.

He hath prevented Epidemical Diseases from spreading, and afforded us a general state of Health. He hath regarded our Pastures and Fields with an Eye of the most indulgent Parent, and rewarded the Industry of our Husbandmen with a plentiful Harvest.

Notwithstanding the unreasonable obstructions to our trade on the seas, it has generally been prosperous and our fisheries successful.

Our civil Constitutions of Government, formed by ourselves, and administered by Men of our own free Election, are by His Grace continued to us. And we still enjoy" the inestimable Blessings of the Gospel and right of worshipping God according to His own Institutions and the honest dictates of our Consciences.

And, together with our thanksgiving, earnest Supplication to God is hereby recommended for the forgiveness of our Sins which have rendered us unworthy of the least of his Mercies ; and that by the sanctifying influence of his Spirit, our hearts and manners may be corrected, and we become a reformed and happy People—That he would direct and prosper the Administration of the Government of the United States, and of this and the other States in the Union. That he would still afford his Blessings on our Trade, Agriculture, Fisheries and all the labours of our hands. That he would smile upon our University, and all Seminaries of Learning—That Tyranny and Usurpation may everywhere come to an end—That the Nations who are contending for true liberty may still be succeeded by his Almighty aid—That every Nation and Society of Men may be inspired with the knowledge and feeling of their natural and just rights, and enabled to form such systems of Civil Government as shall be fully adopted to promote and establish their Social Security and Happiness—And, finally, that in the course of God's Holy Providence, the great Family of Mankind may bow to the sceptre of the Prince of Peace so that mutual Friendship and Harmony may universally prevail.

And I do recommend to the People of this Commonwealth to abstain from all such Labours and Recreations as may not be consistent with the Solemnity of the said Day.

Given at the Council Chamber in Boston, this sixth day of October, in the year of our Lord, one Thousand seven Hundred and Ninety-six, and in the twenty-first Year of the Independence of the United States of America.

Samuel Adams.

Attest: John Avery, Secry

God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts !

TO THE LEGISLATURE OF MASSACHUSETTS. NOVEMBER 17,1796.




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