Yuval Levin and Adam J. White at National Review:

Each Thanksgiving calls to mind early Thanksgivings — at Plymouth in 1621, of course, but perhaps also in the nation’s capital in 1789. In October of that year, just months into the nation’s new constitutional government, President Washington issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation. Its words of gratitude to “the beneficent Author of all the good” in our world, “for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us,” would ring familiar around American tables today, even in the most difficult of years.

Among the many things for which his proclamation offers gratitude is this: “for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted.” That is, the mere fact that the newly independent American people had gathered in their capitols and towns, to write and ratify new constitutions, was an immense achievement; the fact that they eventually wrote and ratified a new constitution for the United States, an unprecedented document for a contested form of federal republic, was astounding.