George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation For Sale, Price $8.4 Million

The 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation is on sale for $8.4 million. Photo: Christie's

George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation is being exhibited and offered for sale days before the holiday begins.

After the proclamation failed to sell for an estimated $8-12 million at Christie’s in November 2013, the owner has chosen to sell the document by exhibition and private sale through the historic document dealer Seth Kaller, working together with Keno Auctions president Leigh Keno.

The rare document, priced at $8.4 million, is one of only two examples signed by George Washington, and is the only copy that remains in private hands. The other copy has been housed in the Library of Congress since 1921.

In the proclamation Washington writes: “Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious being … That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for … the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish the constitutions of government for our safety and happiness … for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge.”

The 1789 proclamation set the precedent for the current Thanksgiving Holiday. On October 3, 1863, 74 years after Washington proclaimed the first Thanksgiving day, President Abraham Lincoln established the fourth Thursday of November as a national day of Thanksgiving, thus creating the holiday as it is known today.

The Thanksgiving Proclamation is on view at Keno Auctions Townhouse until November 26.

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