William Claflin (1818-1905) was governor of Massachusetts from 1869-1872. Here is his proclamation for a statewide day of fasting and prayer for April 7, 1870. Notice the mention he makes of “The request of a few that this custom [of issuing proclamations] be discontinued…”

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

By His Excellency

William Claflin,


A Proclamation

For a day of Fasting and Prayer.

The season has returned which our pious ancestors deemed suitable to a public acknowledgment of dependence upon the goodness of God.

The request of a few, that this custom be discontinued, manifestly does not express the feeling of any considerable number of the people of the Commonwealth.

And it is certainly desirable that among us there be no diminution of the religious sentiment which originated the usage.

If the observance of the day has degenerated from its original idea, we should use it as described by the prophet in Holy Writ, proclaiming “an acceptable fast to  the Lord.”

It is not to “bow the head as a bulrush,” but to “loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free.”

“Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?”

It is therefore recommended that Thursday, the Seventh day of April Next, be devoted to Fasting and Prayer, and to the exercise of those benevolent purposes which denote sincere humility of heart toward God and the recognition of our obligations to our fellow-men.

As we engage in public, worship, let us pray Him who rules the destinies of Nations, that He may preserve us from the dreaded pestilence, that He may give us freedom from wars and tumults, that He may bestow plentiful harvests, and secure to each a just recompense for his labors; and that we may be blessed with good order and good government, which are so essential to the prosperity of the States and Nations. Let us remember in our prayers the bereaved and sorrowing and ask for them the consolations which are granted to those who look with faith to the great source of all comfort. And let us ask of God the strength and wisdom necessary to develop in us those principles of piety, charity, and good will, which are man’s distinguishing attributes; and to add to His other blessings the full forgiveness of sin through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Given at the Council Chamber, in Boston, this third day of March, in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and seventy, and of the Independence of the United states of America the ninety-fourth.

William Claflin

By His Excellency the Governor,

By and With the Advice and consent of the Council.

Oliver Warner, Secretary.


God Save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.