Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving

Image from Wikipedia

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! I thought I’d share a little about some of the history of the holiday!

On October 3, 1863, President Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving set the precedent for our country’s national day of Thanksgiving. It proclaims the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” Prior to that, different states had been celebrating Thanksgiving on different days.

Lincoln, born in Kentucky, grew up in a poor family and was mostly self-educated, having only attended school for a year. He became a country lawyer before getting involved in politics in the 1830’s. In 1860, he was elected the 16th President of the United States, entering office in 1861. Our country was still in the midst of the Civil War when the first Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday was celebrated.

Here is the text of Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863…

By the President of the United States of America.

A PROCLAMATION.

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

Abraham Lincoln

A year later, in 1864, Lincoln was re-elected president. On April 9, 1865, Confederate commanding general Robert E. Lee surrendered, ending the Civil War. And just days after, on April 14, Lincoln was assassinated. He died early the next morning.

I’ve heard the movie Lincoln is very good, and it’s such an appropriate time to have a movie out about him…have any of you seen it?

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends!

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