Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Thanksgiving and Abraham Lincoln"

We have President Abraham Lincoln to thank for declaring Thanksgiving (first celebrated at Plymouth in 1621) a national holiday to be observed annually on the last Thursday of November. Thanksgiving, in the President's words, would be "acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people."

The first national observance took place about a week after The President delivered the Gettysburg Address in November 1863.

And . . . it is said that Abraham Lincoln was the first President to pardon a Thanksgiving turkey.

November 1863 was quite an historic month!

Today we're shopping, cooking, cleaning, travelling . . . prepping for tomorrow, the big day. I have much to be thankful for this year, including your visits today, and throughout this bicentennial year. Thank you!

In remembrance of Thanksgiving 1863, we present the text of President Lincoln's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation. I'm struck by the beautiful prose, imagery and reverent tone of his words:

The year that is drawing toward 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 the heart which is habitually insensible to the everwatchful 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 provoke their aggressions, 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 theater of military conflict; while that theater 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 defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax 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 battlefield, 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 Stated States to be affixed.


(Issued on OCTOBER 3, 1863)


  1. Dear Ela, Wonderful! Sending you thanks for reaching out to me through cyberspace this year and bringing joy! Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Thank you Daffycat (your dancing avatar makes me smile!) and Olenka (my new/childhood friend). I love that you're here!