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Abraham Lincoln: A Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to Our Beneficent Father

Issued in October 1863, in the midst of what remains the deadliest war in our history:

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 unequaled 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 consiousness 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 Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,Secretary of State

  1. ConservativeWanderer

    I do so wish contributors would check the Member Feed.

  2. Group Captain Mandrake

    It does mean, however, that non-subscribers will be able to view it and perhaps feel motivated to join….(I’m feeling optimistic today).

  3. David Williamson

    I’m sure Mr Obama could have written such a letter, if he had remembered.

    Is he back from Asia yet?

  4. RightinChicago

    Can you imagine how the MSM would treat Abraham Lincoln today. Picture the headlines. “Backwoods Bumpkin Runs for Office” “Racial Extremist Lincoln?” “Manic Depression in the GOP”

  5. Michael S. Malone
    C

    Peter:  As you know, I just got back from Oxford last night.  Once again, while there I was struck by how much the UK — thanks to U.S. television — has adopted our Thanksgiving.  Oxonians now regularly wish me Happy Thanksgiving or tell me they are holding dinners of their own, Tesco offers turkey dinners with all of the trimmings, and there are fresh turkeys hanging at the butchers in the Covered Market.  I used to tease the Brits — “You’re celebrating McClellan’s victory at Antietam, too?” — but I’ve grown to appreciate that the desire to come together with your extended family and give thanks for all that you have been given, is universal.  These days, I just happily return their sentiment.

    Next up, Christmas.  I didn’t see a single Father Christmas this year — but Thomas Nast’s Santa Claus is everywhere . . .

  6. Henry Scanlon

    Compare that to the sage and uplifting words of Jon Stewart from whom, apparently and unfortunately, so many acquire their worldview: “I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land. ” Sheesh…

  7. Crow

    Cicero tells us, or, more accurately, his character Scipio tells us in Cicero’s Republic, that a city which is founded by a series of men over time is stronger than one founded at a stroke by a single man.

    If Scipio’s insight was correct, then I suspect that Lincoln was precisely the sort of man he had in mind to take up again the project he was proposing, and to defend it in its deepest moment of crisis. 

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