Wednesday, November 27, 2013

President Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation: 150 years ago

As we take a day to thank the Almighty for our blessings, a bit of history to marvel over...


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

President Abraham Lincoln, 1863


  1. Thank you, I'm ashamed to admit I have never heard this before (having gotten only D's in History...) I have read it with new eyes and new appreciation tonight. I hope you have a very thankful Thanksgiving.

  2. Becky, I had never heard it before, either! Nor the one by George Washington (I posted that one last year and the year before, I think).

    I love that this and Washington's proclamations show who we really are. It's never been an American principle to keep religion and belief in God utterly private, utterly out of the public square… the Founders and all the great presidents and statesmen that followed would be shocked at the notion. It's revisionist history to suggest it.

    Don't you love how, after praising and thanking God the Father, Lincoln dates it "in the year of our Lord"? That just really struck me!

  3. "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."

    Just beautiful.

  4. Lincoln was an amazing orator. A lost art.

  5. A bit of trivia:

    Before the “first” Thanksgiving celebration on U.S. soil in 1621, on April 30, 1598, in Texas, Don Juan de Oñate had already declared officially a “Day of Thanksgiving”, commemorated with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    Oñate did what is essentially Catholic: to celebrate the Eucharist, a word which comes from the Greek term eucharistia, and which means, precisely, “thanksgiving”.

    1st Thanksgiving and Don Juan de Oñate

  6. And with that, Francis, I think I'll start my day today by going to celebrate the Mass. Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. Great reminder, Francis!

    Thanks for posting this Thanksgiving Proclamation, Leila. My sister sent the following link that shows a way of thinking that is not quite as far in the past as Lincoln's proclamation:

    I think it's precious. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone on the Bubble, especially to Leila's happily growing family. Praying that the wonderful smells of Thanksgiving don't make your daughter feel sick!

  8. Leila, did you see this?

  9. If you are ever in Springfield, IL, make sure you go to the Lincoln Museum. It really is a good museum, and it gives you a much deeper appreciation for the man.


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