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Why Did the Pilgrims Come Here?

November 25, 2010

I had a birthday a couple of days ago.  The years march by but I don’t feel any older until I look at a wedding picture Sue has on her night stand. Wow, where did the time go?  Much has changed in my lifetime and probably yours, too.  Many of the changes are good and have made things better for us as a people but many are not.

Thanksgiving is one of those negative changes. It has become, to many, the start of shopping season, big meals, and football. To be honest I like turkey and football as well but I’m sure not getting up in the dark to stand in line for a sale on Black Friday.

But my main point about the change regarding Thanksgiving is how we think of it.  I wonder how many young folks know the Pilgrims came here to escape religious persecution?  When they gave thanks it was to God for protecting them from a perilous journey, for a religiously free country, and for the bounties their new country provided.

Most of us still give thanks for our bounties, families and friends but not so much to God.  The seemingly nonstop assault on any reference to God and religion is amazing.  How so many have bought into the myth that our founders wanted “the separation of church and state” is amazing.  How “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” can be manifested to now mean no religion is beyond me.

If you don’t think God was instrumental and a major influence in the minds of the majority of those heroes that formed our country, from the Pilgrims to our Founding Fathers, I ask you to read the first Presidential Thanksgiving proclamation written by George Washington in  1789.

“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.”

One Comment
  1. Curtis Yates permalink

    Thanks for this, John. It was a great way to start my day on Thanksgiving. A wonderful reminder.

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