|Day of Thanksgiving Proclamation|
Governor John Hancock
(MS0119, DC394. 26 1783)
Thanksgiving was not celebrated nationally until George Washington issued a proclamation for it in 1789 and it wasn't a federal holiday until Abraham Lincoln declared it as such in 1863. Prior to that, individual colonies would periodically declare days of thanksgiving for various reasons. We are grateful that our archival collection includes many proclamations for days of thanksgiving, prayer, and fasting. For Days of Thanksgiving, in particular, our holdings include more than thirty proclamations issued by Massachusetts Governors dating from the 1700s into the early 1900s. The oldest proclamations in our collection include this one by John Hancock, a 1796 proclamation for solemn prayer and fasting issued by Governor Samuel Adams, and a 1764 proclamation for a general fast issued by Governor Francis Bernard.
Governor Channing Cox
(MS0119, DC394. 26 1921)
While the function of the Thanksgiving Proclamation changed over the years, the general sentiment remained the same, that citizens of Massachusetts take a moment to reflect on their blessings with a grateful heart.
By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager