John Hancock (1737-1793) was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the president of the Continental Congress, and governor of Massachusetts. It was during his time as governor that he issued the following October 28, 1784 proclamation declaring a day of Thanksgiving for November 25, 1784. The proclamation text and image is taken from Thomas’s Massachusetts Spy dated November 11, 1784.
By His Excellency, JOHN HANCOCK, Esquire,
Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
For a Day of THANKSGIVING.
It being our indispensable duty as a people, in a public and religious manner, to acknowledge the preserving and Governing providence of Almighty God, and more especially to celebrate the Divine Goodness in the various blessings conferred upon us in the course of the year past.
I have therefore thought fit, with the advice and consent of the Council, to appoint, and do hereby appoint THURSDAY the Twenty-Fifth Day of NOVEMBER next, to be religiously observed as a Day of THANKSGIVING throughout this Commonwealth; hereby calling upon Ministers and people of all denominations, in their several assemblies, to unite with grateful hearts in celebrating the Praises of Almighty GOD, of His great goodness and bounty vouchsafed [given] to a sinful and unworthy people; particularly for the great and signal interpositions of His Providence in behalf of the United States in the course of the late contest, and that after being rescued from the dangers and calamities of war; peace has been restored to us, and that our public affairs are in so promising and happy a situation; for granting to us a plentiful harvest in the great abundance of the fruits of the earth; for the general health enjoyed throughout this State during the course of the year, and preventing epidemical and mortal distempers from spreading among us; reviving our trade, navigation and fishery and protecting the same from the insults of Pirates and other disasters; for directing and succeeding our public Councils, and above all for continuing to us the light of the blessed Gospel, and securing to us our religious and civil liberties and privileges. And to join with their praises their earnest and humble supplications to Almighty GOD, for the pardon of our past ingratitude and other transgressions; and that He would grant that all instances of the Divine goodness may have an effectual influence for working a general reformation in all orders of persons among us; that so we may be that happy people, whose GOD is the LORD, and that ALL nations may bow to the scepter of our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, and that the whole Earth may be filled with His Glory.
GIVEN at the Council-Chamber in Boston, the 28th day of October, in the Year of our Lord, one Thousand seven hundred and eighty-four, and in the ninth year of the Independence of the United Sates of America.
By his Excellency’s Command,
JOHN AVERY, Jun. Secretary
GOD save the Commonwealth of MASSACHUSETTS.