Letter from the Director
October 1, 1997
Thanksgiving is an especially important public event for Americans. The image of the pilgrims giving thanks is a familiar part of American tradition. But the tradition acquired significant civic dimensions as the generations of Americans increased in numbers. The Congress in 1789 asked George Washington "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity to peaceably establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
President Washington then issued his Thanksgiving Proclamation setting aside Thursday, the 26th day of November to be devoted "to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be."
President Washington asked Americans to show gratitude “for the signal and manifold mercies” as well as “for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty” which we enjoy. He asked us to give thanks “for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness” and for “the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge.” He asked us to “promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue.”
And so, we gather in our homes each Thanksgiving Day with our families in gratitude for our many blessings as Americans.
I do not flatter the Ashbrook Center when I say that here we have an understanding of the distinctively American blessings – the blessings of liberty. We understand the foundations and the purposes of American freedom – and our charge is to make sure that our students do as well.
What good we are able to do is made possible with your generosity. We take this occasion to give thanks to all our generous supporters. And although we are requesting you to consider your planned giving in this newsletter, I am duty bound to remind you that we are also in need of general support to meet our current budget.
The intellectual and moral education of the Ashbrook Scholars, the opportunity to meet with men like Henry Kissinger, their participation in conferences, their taking internships, all these things are made possible because of your generosity.
We are grateful and humbled in knowing that you are with us, and promise that with your help we will continue our good work.
Peter W. Schramm