Posts Tagged ‘abraham lincoln’

Abraham Lincoln Proclamation of Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Proclamation of Thanksgiving
Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America’s national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders like this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a prominent magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on 28, 1863, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” 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.” The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”

According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln’s secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary that he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.

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,
tranquility 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