The earliest Thanksgiving Days in the Empire State had a military raison d’etre. They were called to celebrate specific military events—usually a victory or a peace treaty.
|Dutch traders in New Netherland. Library of Congress. 1893 lithograph.|
|Willem Kieft, Library of Congress, 1904.|
The Dutch and the Indians subsequently concluded a peace treaty a year later, in 1645, and Kieft ordered another thanksgiving.
|Print of Sir William Johnson by Charles Spooner, Library of Congress.|
The outcome on battlefields also prompted English governors to proclaim thanksgivings after the English wrested control of New Netherland from the Dutch in 1664. The announcement of the defeat of French and Indian forces by provincial troops led by Sir William Johnson at the Battle of Lake George in 1755, prompted the English governor of New York to proclaim a day of public thanksgiving. When the English captured Montreal from the French and completed the conquest of Canada in 1760, Cadwallader Colden, the acting governor of New York, celebrated by proclaiming “a day of Public Thanksgiving to Almighty God” on October 3. In his proclamation, Colden commanded New Yorkers to observe the day “with the utmost decency and reverence, abstaining from all servile labor and devoutly attending divine service” which he also directed be performed in all public places of worship.