The source of those many blessings is, of course, God, to whom President George Washington dedicated this national day of thanksgiving:
Issued by President George Washington,
at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign 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 who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; 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; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Yes, when entrepreneurs make it big, they really make it big. It’s the narrative of U.S. economic history. Ordinary citizens who risk everything, some of whom end up being very, very successful…beyond even their wildest imaginings.
But, Thanksgiving isn’t only about being thankful for $$$s and jobs, as important as both are. As President Washington reminded his fellow citizens, it’s first and foremost about giving thanks to God and, in particular, for the abilities and talents—the gifts God bestows upon His creatures—by giving back to others from the $$$s and jobs made possible by those entrepreneurs, each according to their ability.
As Holmes notes, the United States has consistently ranked as the most giving, charitable country on Earth. Did you know that the combined amount of the top 20 largest donations of 2013 exceeded $5.7B?
The chart below identifies where high net worth people have donated their money, broken down by the value and number of gifts. Yet, what precedes each and every one of those gifts—what every American should give thanks for—is America’s free enterprise, capitalist system which allows entrepreneurs to find solutions to problems as well as profit from those solutions.
The idea for the title of Holmes’ article came from an essay written by a professor of economics at Grove City College, Mark Hendrickson, who wrote:
Wealth doesn’t just appear spontaneously; someone has to produce it…
In a free-market economy characterized by voluntary, and therefore
positive-sum, transactions, the profits of entrepreneurs signify that at
least that much wealth has been created for their customers. In other
words, the larger profits are, the more wealth the entrepreneur has
created for others, and indeed, the largest profits accrue to those firms
that have supplied valuable goods and services to the masses.
In this regard, consider Google. The capital it has generated for the world is difficult to estimate. Google employs ~55k people across the globe, adding an additional 6k employees annually. No doubt about it, Google’s success certainly benefits its bottom line. But, beyond that, Google also benefits the lives of millions upon millions of people, beginning with its employees and extending beyond Google to those whose quality of life is improved by using Google’s many services.
Each Thanksgiving, Americans should express thanks to God, first, for the many blessing He has bestowed upon us as a nation and, in particular, for the talents and abilities He has renewed in each generation and which, used wisely, have benefitted us as a people. Then, as Frank Holmes notes, Americans should not forget to express thanks, second, for those entrepreneurs who, generation after generation, have utilized their talents to provide goods and services that have improved the lives of countless others, both nationally and internationally.
Let the discussion begin...
To read Frank Holmes Thanksgiving week edition of his newletter, click on the following link:
To read Professor Mark Hendrickson's essay, click on the following link: