Thanksgiving Got Its Start Here in Newark

by Jule Spohn


There is an article in today's Star Ledger saying that Thanksgiving, as we know it today, got it's start from one of Newark's most prominent persons back in 1789.

Elias Boudinot, whose home was located on Park Place, and was torn down in 1912 to make way for the Public Service buildings, introduced a resolution on Sept 25, 1789, in the House of Representatives requesting the president to declare a national day of public thanksgiving. His resolution called on President George Washington to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observe by acknowledging , with grateful hearts, the many significant favours of Almighty God (almost forbidden today) especially by affording them an opportunity peaceable to establish a Constitution of government for their safety and happiness."

Boudinot was part of a committee to get the resolution passed and on Sept 26, the Senate agreed. On Oct 3, 1789, President George Washington issued the proclamation declaring a day of prayer and thanksgiving in November.

Boudinot was born in Newark and served as a state delegate to the Continental Congress from 1777 to 1778, and again from 1781 to 1784. In 1777 Washington asked Boudinot to serve as the commissioner of prisoners of wars. From 1789 to 1795 Boudinot was a U. S. Representative and then was appointed director of the U. S. Mint.

George Washington attended the wedding of Boudinot and his bride, Catherine Smith, in Elizabethtown during the Revolutionary War. Boudinot was the younger brother of Elias Boudinot, president of the Continental Congress when the Treaty of Paris, which ended the war, was signed in 1783. Judge Boudinot was also the president of the first bank, the Newark Banking and Insurance Company, here in Newark (later known as the National Newark and Essex Banking Company).


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