Presidential Thanksgiving proclamations and speeches have been popular throughout American history. Within the federal government, the tradition pre-dates the U.S. Constitution adopted in 1789, and was observed by the Continental Congress.
President George Washington issued the first presidential Thanksgiving proclamation but that was not officially observed as a concurrent tradition by every president until Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving to be observed on Thursday, November 26, 1863.
Before Lincoln, Thanksgiving was generally promoted in government at the state level.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt officially made the holiday the fourth Thursday in November in 1942.
President Barack Obama has already released his Thanksgiving Presidential Proclamation for 2015.
Below are seven great spiritual quotes from American presidents about one of America's most observed holidays:
1.Calvin Coolidge 1925:
"As we have grown and prospered in material things, so also should we progress in moral and spiritual things. We are a God-fearing people who should set ourselves against evil and strive for righteousness in living, and observing the Golden Rule we should from our abundance help and serve those less fortunately placed. We should bow in gratitude to God for His many favors."
2. Franklin Delano Roosevelt 1942:
"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord." Across the uncertain ways of space and time our hearts echo those words, for the days are with us again when, at the gathering of the harvest, we solemnly express our dependence upon Almighty God.
The final months of this year, now almost spent, find our Republic and the Nations joined with it waging a battle on many fronts for the preservation of liberty.
In giving thanks for the greatest harvest in the history of our Nation, we who plant and reap can well resolve that in the year to come we will do all in our power to pass that milestone; for by our labors in the fields we can share some part of the sacrifice with our brothers and sons who wear the uniform of the United States.
It is fitting that we recall now the reverent words of George Washington, "Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy Protection," and that every American in his own way lift his voice to heaven."
3. Grover Cleveland 1885:
"And let us by no means forget while we give thanks and enjoy the comforts which have crowned our lives that truly grateful hearts are inclined to deeds of charity, and that a kind and thoughtful remembrance of the poor will double the pleasures of our condition and render our praise and thanksgiving more acceptable in the sight of the Lord."
4. Ronald Reagan 1981:
"In this spirit, Thanksgiving has become a day when Americans extend a helping hand to the less fortunate. Long before there was a government welfare program, this spirit of voluntary giving was ingrained in the American character. Americans have always understood that, truly, one must give in order to receive. This should be a day of giving as well as a day of thanks."
5. Bill Clinton 1999:
"As we acknowledge the past, we do so knowing that the individual blessings for which we give thanks may have changed, but our gratitude to God and our commitment to our fellow Americans remain constant."
6. Abraham Lincoln 1863:
"They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy."
7. Richard Nixon: 1972:
"From Moses at the Red Sea to Jesus preparing to feed the multitudes, the Scriptures summon us to words and deeds of gratitude, even before divine blessings are fully perceived. From Washington kneeling at Valley Forge to the prayer of an astronaut circling the moon, our own history repeats that summons and proves its practicality."