Editor’s note: For quite a while now, social media enthusiasts have been using the hashtag #tbt (or, in long-form, “Throwback Thursday”) as a way to reminisce about the past. Now Lawfare has decided to get in on the action by means of a new feature. Each week, Lawfare will turn back in time to a specific event, and briefly explain how it relates to today’s security and/or legal environment.
If you clicked on Lawfare in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner, something must be horribly wrong. Trying to temper the boredom of forced family fun? Desperately looking for conversation starters with Awkward Cousin Martha? Attempting to stave off the relentless tidal pull of a gravy-based food coma? Looking for a relentlessly patriotic reading for your Thanksgiving table? Whatever it is, Lawfare’s got you covered. To celebrate the occasion, we’re throwing back far—real far—with a focus on a unique exercise of executive authority: Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations. All of them.
Almost all Presidents, with a few notable exceptions, took the time during their tenure to issue a statement in honor of the holiday. But while most sites focus on what the current President’s statement will be, we were feeling gluttonous: Why restrict ourselves to the bland, dry offerings of one Presidential Proclamation when we can cut and paste sentences from all of them into one glorious turducken of a decree?
All of the sentences in the below statement are amalgamated from nearly 250 years worth of Proclamations. Each highlighted link denotes the first word of a different president’s address. While the following does hew to a rough chronological progression, see if you can guess which Presidents said which sentences.
A Synthetic Thanksgiving Proclamation from the Presidency
Forasmuch as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; and as the United States of America are at present placed in a hazardous and afflictive situation by the unfriendly disposition, conduct, and demands of a foreign power; and as it is likewise a plain dictate of duty and a strong sentiment of nature that in circumstances of great urgency and seasons of imminent danger earnest and particular supplications should be made to Him who is able to defend or to destroy; no people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the Great Disposer of Events of the Destiny of Nations than the people of the United States.
It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year. He has permitted us to multiply ships upon our lakes and rivers and upon the high seas; with local exceptions, health has been among the many blessings enjoyed. Under a sense of these infinite obligations to the Great Ruler of Times and Seasons and Events, the falling leaf admonishes us that the time of our sacred duty is at hand. Constant thanksgiving and gratitude are due from the American people, a highly favored people. No great pestilence has invaded our shores. Liberal employment waits upon labor. Abundant crops have rewarded the efforts of the husbandman. Increased comforts have come to the home. The national finances have been strengthened, and public credit has been sustained and made firmer.