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America’s first Thanksgiving proclamation

It is late September, the year is 1777. The Congress of the states who recently declared independence from the British is meeting in a town called York, a hundred miles from Philadelphia.

Why were they meeting there? Well, September had been a brutal month for General George Washington and his army. After losing the Battle of Brandywine in Delaware on Sept. 11, the British would capture the capital Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Congress had no choice but to flee, and they ended up in York.

With all of the bad news, they decided to have the secret meeting to determine whether there was still any hope of success against the British. There’s no doubt that many there thought it was best to cut their losses and try to negotiate a peace with the British; and who could blame them? But one man decided to stand up and encourage the Congress to continue the fight. His name was Samuel Adams.

While Samuel Adams is best known to most people today as a mere beer brand, he was actually one of the most influential people of the revolutionary period. His group, the Sons of Liberty, would become the main protest group leading the people of America from mere complainers of the British, to people fighting for freedom against the Brits. His speeches and writings for liberty would convince many in the country that it was time to become independent.

When Adams stood up that night at the secret meeting of Congress, things might have seemed hopeless, but he would show them that it was not. His words would become a rallying cry that encouraged everyone who believed in freedom and independence to fight on.

Adams stood up and said, “Let us awaken then, and envice a different spirit; A spirit that shall inspire the people with confidence in themselves and in us; A spirit that will encourage them to preserve in this glorious struggle, until their rights and liberties shall be established on a rock. We have proclaimed to the world our determination ‘to die freemen, rather than to live slaves.’ We have appealed to Heaven for the justice of our cause, and in Heaven we have placed our trust.”

“Numerous have been the manifestations of God’s providence in sustaining us,” he continued. “In the gloomy period of adversity, we had ‘our cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.’ We have been reduced to distress, and the arm of Omnipotence has raised us up. Let us still rely in humble confidence on Him who is mighty to save. Good tidings will soon arrive. We shall never be abandoned by Heaven while we act worthy of its aid and protection.“

After this, the patriots would fight on, winning a major battle at Saratoga in late October that would help change the course of the war. On Nov. 1, after receiving the good news at Saratoga, Congress adopted a report drafted by none other than Samuel Adams. The report declared Thursday, Dec. 18, a “day of Thanksgiving” to God, “particularly in that he hath been pleased in so great a measure to prosper the means used for the support of our troops.” It was the first Thanksgiving proclamation in the history of America.

On this Thanksgiving, remember to whom our thanks go out to. Our founders understood that in order for us to succeed as a nation we would need the help of Almighty God. Times are tough, but if we appeal to God we will be able to overcome any obstacle.

Remember to thank God for everything you will enjoy on Thanksgiving including your family and country. Thanks be to God that He has blessed our nation, and may He continue to bless us for generations to come.

Yaffee is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts “The Yaffee Program” weekdays 9-11 a.m. on WVNN. You can follow him on Twitter @Yaffee

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