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Thanksgiving Proclamations
(not all are in November)

The first national Thanksgiving Proclamations were those issued by the Continental Congress between 1777 and 1784. From 1785 to 1788 there were no national Thanksgiving Proclamations. George Washington issued the first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789.

Abraham Lincoln issued Thanksgiving Proclamations in the spring of 1862 and the spring of 1863; both proclamations gave thanks for victories in battle. These Thanksgivings are NOT regarded as the originators of the so-far unbroken series of presidential Thanksgiving proclamations because they are giving thanks for specific victories and not for more general "blessings of God." Jefferson Davis, likewise, issued a Thanksgiving proclamation giving thanks for victories in battle in 1862 and had, early in 1861, proclaimed a Day of Fasting & Humiliation (the only other President to proclaim a Day of Fasting & Humiliation was John Adams in 1798 & 1799).

Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation in the autumn of 1863 - the SECOND Thanksgiving Proclamation in that year, following his springtime proclamation giving thanks for victory in battle - gave more general thanks for the blessings of the year. This second 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation, the first in the unbroken string of annual presidential Thanksgiving proclamations, is regarded as the true beginning of the national Thanksgiving holiday. Actually, it was a resurrection and not a beginning, since there had been earlier national Thanksgivings, beginning with those proclaimed by the Continental Congress during the Revolutionary War.

Select from the list below to read all the Proclamations:

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Updated December 13, 2012

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