In perusing an old 1860 copy of The Guardian, we found the editor as frustrated with the political leaders of his own day as we sometimes are with our own. It seems about the best they could drum up was a vague thanks to “the Disposer of human events” in their public proclamations. It brings to mind our own times in which those insufferably perky television reporters ask countless people on the street “What are you thankful for?” but never, and we mean never, “Who are you thankful to?” The following, written by Samuel Adams, Rev. John Witherspoon and Richard Henry Lee was passed by the Congress on November 1, 1777, commemorating the victory at Saratoga and the surrender of Gen. Burgoyne. They knew what they were thankful for (including “schools and seminaries of education”), but they also knew to Whom they were thankful, as the following text demonstrates.

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FORASMUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of; And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence, but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defence and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased in so great a Measure to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops and to crown our Arms with most signal success:

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 Solemn Thanksgiving and Praise; That with one Heart and one Voice the good People may express the 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 Favour, 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 Labour of the Husbandman, that our Land may yet 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 servile Labour, and such Recreation as, though at other Times innocent, may be unbecoming the Purpose of this Appointment, be omitted on so solemn an Occasion.{footnote}Extract from the Minutes, Charles Thomson, Secretary, Journals of the American Congress From 1774 to 1788; also see The Guardian Vol. XI [German Reformed Church], Lancaster, PA 1860{/footnote}

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