Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation


From the time the Indians cooked turkey for the Pilgrims until October 3 of 1863, America celebrated Thanksgiving Day. But not on the same day.

Then, in the midst of the Civil War, a well known magazine writer, Sarah Josepha Hale, sent a letter to President Lincoln in which she suggested that Lincoln have "the day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival. 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."

Mr. Lincoln apparently agreed with Ms. Hale and so the President issued one of his many Proclamations. Lincoln loved making Proclamations. Lincoln's Secretary of State, William H. Seward, penned the Proclamation, which Lincoln then signed, forever making the last Thursday of November a National Day of Thanksgiving and Praise.

Below is Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation....

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 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 Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward, Secretary of State

2 comments:

A. Neighbor said...

I'm retty sure I had read somewhere that Thanksgiving was actually celebrated in early November until the Depression era when President FDR moved it to the current end of November specfically to promote consumer spending, as the new day is closer to the major holiday of X-mas (the X being the abbreviation for Christ since that's the first letter in Greek, was how the New Testament was written originally ).

In any event, we're thankful for many things, including your entertaing and informative blog @ daily life in east FW.

MicheleQ said...

Actually it was president George Washington who issued a proclamation on October 3, 1789 naming Thursday, November 26, 1789 as an official holiday of “sincere and humble thanks.” After that different states celebrated on different days until Lincoln’s proclamation on October 3, 1863 when he made Thanksgiving a national holiday to be celebrated specifically on the last Thursday of November.

In 1939 FDR moved it to the third Thursday of November to lengthen the Christmas shopping season and boost the economy still recovering from the Depression. That move, which set off a national debate, was reversed in 1941 when Congress passed and President Roosevelt approved a joint house resolution establishing, by law, the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.)

In 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the third Thursday of November to lengthen the Christmas shopping season and boost the economy still recovering from the Depression. This move, which set off a national debate, was reversed in 1941 when Congress passed and President Roosevelt approved a joint house resolution establishing, by law, the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

Source: The National Archives