Increase Sumner (1746-1799) was the governor of Massachusetts from 1797-1799. He had previously been a member of the House of Representatives, a Senator, and a justice in the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

This proclamation was issued by Increase Sumner on March 1, 1798, declaring April 5, 1798 the day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer for the state. The text of the proclamation comes from The Salem Gazette on March 9, 1798. To see a sermon preached on the fast day in Massachusetts, click here.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
By His Excellency
Governor of the Commonwealth
Of Massachusetts,
For a Day of Solemn FASTING and
proclamation-fasting-humiliation-and-prayer-1798-massachusetts-2The entire dependence of all men on the Supreme Governor of the World, for temporal as well as spiritual blessings, evinces the propriety and duty of supplicating His favor by humiliation and prayer. Deeply penetrated with this sentiment, our venerable ancestors have uniformly set apart, at this season of the year, a day for this religious purpose; not less impressed than those, whose example we follow, with a sense of our absolute dependence on the Fountain of Mercies for every public and private blessing,

I have thought fit, by and with the advice of Council, to appoint THURSDAY the FIFTH of APRIL NEXT, to be observed throughout this Commonwealth, as a day Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer. Calling on ministers and people of every denomination to assemble on that day, in their respective places of public worship, and with united hearts penitently to confess their sins, and implore the favor and blessing of Almighty God, through the great Mediator, upon the concerns of the ensuing year.

In particular, that He would be pleased to guide and prosper the administration of Civil Government within this Commonwealth.

That He would afford His guidance and blessing to the President of the United States, and that the councils and determinations of our National Government, being founded in wisdom and justice, may promote the true interest and happiness of the United States. That He would be pleased to strengthen the union, and not suffer any design that may be formed against us to prosper.

That he would inspire those in civil authority with a just sense of the trust committed to their care, and enable them to discharge it with fidelity.

That the people may be endued with a public spirit, and true love of their country; properly estimating the blessings of civil and religious liberty, by which they are distinguished And that truth, piety and righteousness, which exalt a nation, may universally prevail.

That He would be graciously pleased to bless the labors of the husbandman, and so to order the seasons, as that the year may be crowned with a plentiful harvest.

That He would guide and direct our University and other seminaries within this Commonwealth, so that the rising generation may be properly instructed in every branch of useful learning, and impressed with the principles of true religion and virtue.

That He would protect our Commerce, Navigation and Fishery from unjust sizable obstructions, and give success to all our lawful undertakings.

That He would be graciously pleased to continue Health in our habitations, and prevent the spreading of mortal contagious diseases; and that through his abundant mercy we may be preserved from every desolating judgment.

That by His gracious influence we may be protected from Internal Commotion and Foreign Invasion.

That the overtures for adjusting differences in Europe may be successful, and permanent peace be established.

And finally, that Wars and Commotions may cease in all parts of the earth; and that mankind, sensible of their mutual dependence, may live in the practice of benevolence, charity, and every other Christian virtue, as become children of one common Parent.

And I do earnestly recommend that all servile labor and recreation, inconsistent with the solemnity of said day, may be suspended.

Given at the Council Chamber, in Boston, this first day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety eight and in the twenty second year of the independence of the United States of America.

Increase Sumner

By his Excellency’s Command, with advice and consent of the Council.
John Avery, Secr’y.

God Save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts