A “Special” Say What Saturday: President Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation for Thanksgiving and Praise

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DBF

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The third year of the Civil War rages on. The nation is torn apart. There is little to contemplate except death and heartache. There is no escape from the suffering and a hope for an end to the conflict can not be found. Battles at Gettysburg, Vicksburg and Chickamauga have touched all, including the residents living in the White House. What can be done to unite people during this difficult period in America?

Sarah Joseph Hale was busy writing letters. She had started a campaign to “formalize a day of thanksgiving”, which was gaining momentum in the press. Her letter was sent to every governor of the United States and territories and in September of 1863 her letter reaches President Lincoln. She wrote -

“You may have observed that for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day in all the states; it now needs national recognition and authoritative fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.

Would it not be fitting and patriotic … to appeal to the Governors of all the States, inviting and commending these to unite in issuing proclamations for the last Thursday in November as the Day of Thanksgiving for the people of each State? Thus the great Union Festival of America would be established.” {1}

Within days President Lincoln issued his Thanksgiving Proclamation declaring officially the final Thursday of November be observed indefinitely as a national holiday of Thanksgiving.

* * * * *​

Washington, D.C
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards 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 even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to 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 defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe 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 battle-field; 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, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United 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.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

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Sources
1. https://www.fords.org/blog/post/thank-you-mr-president-lincoln-and-the-thanksgiving-proclamation/
2.
http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/thanks.htm
 

lelliott19

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Mar 15, 2013
I hope everyone enjoys a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thanks for sharing this quote @DBF and a very happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
 
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