Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 28, 1782: Thanksgiving

On Oct. 11, 1782, the Continental Congress appointed Thursday, November 28, 1782 a day of prayer and thanksgiving. Delivering a thanksgiving sermon on that day, Rev. John Witherspoon thanked God for the French.

“It was surely a great favor of Providence to raise up for us so great and illustrious an ally in Europe.”

The three-person Congressional committee recommending the day of thanksgiving was written by one of its members, Rev. Witherspoon himself. The committee report called attention to “the success of the arms of the United States and those of their allies….” Witherspoon was encouraging his fellow-clergymen to also acknowledge the intervention of Providence in obtaining the support of the France.

My thanks to Jeffry H. Morrison for clarifying the date of Witherspoon's sermon. Morrison is Associate Professor of Government at Regent University. Gaillard Hunt, ed., Journals of the Continental Congress 1774-1789: Volume 23: August 12-December 31, 1782 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1914), page 647 and 647 note; John Rodgers, ed., The Works of the Rev. John Witherspoon… 3 vols. (Philadelphia: William W. Woodward, 1800), 2:458; Jeffry H. Morrison, John Witherspoon and the Founding of the American Republic (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005), 134.
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