This is the text of a proclamation for a Day of Thanksgiving, Praise and Prayer, issued by Elbridge Gerry (Signer of the Declaration of Independence; Framer of the Bill of Rights), while he was serving as governor of Massachusetts. The proclamation was issued on October 22, 1811 and was declaring November 21, 1811 to be the day of Thanksgiving.
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
By His Excellency,
Elbridge Gerry, Esquire,
Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
FOR A DAY OF
PUBLIC THANKSGIVING AND PRAISE.
“The Lord reigneth, let the earth,” let all creation, “rejoice.” The innumerable blessings conferred by our divine benefactor, during the present and in every preceding year, on the inhabitants of this Commonwealth, proclaim their duty, to offer to Him, at all times, with unbounded gratitude, their cheerful acknowledgments of His perpetual favors. To implore, with the deepest humility, His pardon of their multiplied and aggravated offenses, to resolve, with unfeigned sincerity, on an implicit obedience to His sovereign will, and to supplicate, with true devotion, His indispensable aid, in every religious, moral, and lawful pursuit.
Impressed by these considerations, and by the usage of our venerable Ancestors, at the close of harvest, I have thought fit, by the advice of the council, to appoint, and I do hereby appoint THURSDAY, the TWENTY-FIRST of NOVEMBER next, to be a day of Public THANKSGIVING, PRAISE, and PRAYER, throughout this Commonwealth; calling on and requesting the ministers and people of every religious denomination, to meet on that day in their respective sanctuaries, that with unanimity and fervor, we may present our unfeigned praises for all the mercies we have received of our Bountiful Creator, who has continued to us the inestimable blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ, blessings not confined to time, but extended to eternity, who has confirmed to us our federal and State constitutions, which secure the enjoyment of our lives, liberties and property, who continues to bless us with a National Government and Administration, whose wisdom, virtue, and firmness have not been circumvented, corrupted or appalled by the arts, seductions, or threats of foreign or domestic foes, but whose patriotic efforts have uniformly and manifestly resulted from an ardent desire to promote the public welfare and happiness, who has not punished our ungrateful murmurs, discontents and other crimes, as He has those of distant nations, by war and its dire effects; but has preserved to us peace, the greatest of national blessings, who has favored us with a Clergy, (with few exceptions,) whose conduct, is influenced by the mild, benign and benevolent principles of the Gospel; and whose example is a constant admonition to such pastors and professors of Christianity, as are too much under the guidance of passion, prejudice, and worldly delusion, Who has enabled us from unavoidable spoliations to derive permanent benefits, by gradually diminishing our dependence on foreign markets, for necessary supplies; by rapidly increasing our manufactures thereof; and by thus preventing in future the plunder of such property by avaricious nations, who has not visited us, as He has other countries, with plague, pestilence or famine; but has kindly preserved to us a great degree of health, and crowned with plenty the labors of our industrious husbandmen, Who has increased the martial ardor and discipline of our militia, and enables us to smile at the menaces of mighty potentates, Who continues to us the due administration of justice, the full and free exercise of our civil religious rights, and the numerous blessing which have resulted from them, Who has prospered in a remarkable degree our Schools, Academies and Colleges; those inestimable sources of public information and happiness, who has protected so great a portion of the property of our merchants, when exposed to the depredations of perfidious governments, Who has granted success to our enterprising fishermen, prospered our ingenious mechanics, and loaded us with His boundless munificence.
And whilst with circumscribed views, we contemplate that Incomprehensible Being whose infinite wisdom and power are displayed in the creation, formation, combination and government of all material substances, animate or inanimate, minute or massive, and in the order and offices prescribed for and performed by the various parts of the Universe, Whose omnipresence is excluded, by neither spirit or matter; but fills all creation and space, let us acknowledge our dependence on His infinite goodness and mercy, for every moment of our existence; consider that all our thoughts, words and actions are open to His view; be convinced that in His presence we are mere nullities; and approach Him with solemn awe and reverence, whilst we humbly solicit, that He will freely pardon our numberless sins and iniquities, that He will be pleased to continue to us the unmerited favors, spiritual and temporal, which we now enjoy, that He will extend throughout the globe, the celestial blessing of the gospel of Christ, that He will place our National and State governments under His wise and holy protection; and direct them always to pursue the true interest and happiness of the people, that He will revive, increase, and protect our commerce, and continue His smiles on our husbandmen, manufacturers, mechanics, fishermen, and every description and individual of the inhabitants of this State and Nation, that He will preserve in health, and long continue the valuable life of the President of United States, that He will restore to the citizens of this commonwealth those indispensable sources of enjoyment and happiness, their wonted benevolence and affection for each other, long interrupted by political, casual, and uncontrollable events, that He will promote the progress of useful arts and sciences, that He will declare to the mighty warriors and destroyers of human felicity, “thus far has thou gone, but thou shalt go no farther,” and, that health, peace, and happiness may pervade all nations of the earth.
And I do earnestly recommend to the Citizens of the Commonwealth to enjoy this festival rationally, and to abstain from unnecessary labor, and from recreations inconsistent with their duty on that day.
Given at the council chamber in Boston this twenty-second day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eleven, and in the thirty-sixth year of the Independence of the United States.
By His Excellency the Governor, with the
advice and consent of the Council.
BENJAMIN HOMANS, Secretary.
God Save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.