The nation was still in her infancy, she had not forgotten where her strength, provision, and forgiveness came from. Long before Thanksgiving became a national holiday, it was the practice of congress to call on the people of the United States to reflect upon the blessings from God and thank Him for his providential hand in the life of the nation.
Thanksgiving Proclamation 1777
By the Continental Congress
The First National Thanksgiving Proclamation
“It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart Thursday, the eighteenth Day of December next for the SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one time and with one voice, the good people may express grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere acknowledgments and offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor; and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please GOD through the merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance; That it may please Him graciously to afford His blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public council of the whole: To inspire our commanders, both by land and sea and all under them, with that wisdom and fortitude which may render them fit instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human blessings, independence and peace: That it may please Him, to prosper the trade and manufactures of the people, and the labor of the husbandmen, that our land may yield its increase: To take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety, under His nurturing hand; and to prosper the means of religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth “in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
And it is further recommended, that service labor, and such recreation, as, though at other times innocent, may be unbecoming the purpose of this appointment, be omitted on so solemn and occasion.