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Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens... to set apart... a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

by Abraham Lincoln

Washington, DC, October 3, 1863

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 can not 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 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 as the iron and coal as of our 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 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 imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, 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 3d day of October, A.D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

Abraham Lincoln

By the President:
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State.

Published: November 22, 2008


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Visitor Comments: 9

(9) Richard Krohn, November 26, 2008 12:37 PM

Lincoln's Heart of Gold

In all my 62 years, I can think of no one, man or woman, Black or White, Jew or gentile, who touches my heart more than Abe Lincoln. His Gettysburg address, his Thanksgiving speech, and especially his second inaugural address, never fail to open my heart to a flood of tears of gratitude that G-d blessed us with such a courageous man. He easily could have let the union dissolve, and all the goodness that America has given to the world in countless ways would never have been known. He could have postponed or ignored the question of emancipation, yet during the height of the conflict, before the decisiveness that was Gettysburg, he determined to free, against the advice of many, an entire race of people from the burdens of an abhorrent enslavement. This act, as he knew it would, only further entrenched the resolve of the south to fight on to preserve this “peculiar institution.” Mr. Lincoln, not only suffered as commander in chief the incredible public burden of the war, but also the private burden of the death of two children and the mental illness of his wife during the war. Yet, despite all of this, as this ghastly war drew to its inevitable close he was able to invoke the Almighty’s name throughout his second inaugural address and make a plea to a nation torn asunder by war that there be “malice toward none and charity toward all.” Is this a man with an evil heart as the writer of comment number 5 suggests? It is true 600,000 men died, but for what cause? The cause was to preserve a nation that would give unimaginable freedoms and prosperity to millions upon millions of people here at home and to be a beacon of hope to millions more over seas. Our great America loves freedom so much we have given thousand more lives to free people on other continents. Let us not forget those who died to liberate the death camps of Europe. Did they die in vain for no reason? Maybe the freedom they died for in Europe was born of the same freedom that was fought and died for 85 years earlier at Antietam and Gettysburg. Maybe the 600,000 who died in the 1860’s gave their lives so that Barack Obama could live in 2008. It is my heart that is broken when I read a comment that reflects the revisionist history that is being taught to our youth. Abe Lincoln- an evil heart? – I think not. I think more like a Heart of Gold.

(8) tova wald, November 25, 2008 3:19 AM

Beautiful Piece of Writing

What a beautiful piece of writing that has been offered here to commemorate Thanksgiving! In its eloquence and style it is mightily penned and a message for all times. Lincoln was a devotely religious man and no doubt the Civil War was a heavy burden. The fateful decision he made affected the future of the nation over which he presided. Since we could not bear witness, there is a question whether Lincoln wrote it enitrely, or had assistance or had a ghost writer? But as one reads, we can appreciate the selectiveness and beauty of the English language. And when we finish, we want to return and start to enjoy it again from the beginning. The added attraction, of course, is that the piece is written under the name of Abraham Lincoln.

(7) Mrs. D, November 24, 2008 1:36 PM

I noticed a parallel

Wow! It has been the frequent rejoinder of those observant Jews among us who do not celebrate THanksgiving,that "Every Shabbos is thanksgiving - or indeed, every day!" As I read over Mr. Lincoln's declaration carefully, though, I think it has agreat deal more in common with Purim! Think about it, a time when we are expressing thanks, at a national level, to our creator, for all of his gifts as well as a great salvation at the time of battle, and also we are obligated to unify with our fellow man by sharing - distributing gifts or meals to the unfortunate, thereby unifying nationally as well. Interesting.

(6) Leibel ben Yitzchak, November 24, 2008 12:17 PM

Despicable Acts?

Regarding comment #5 by Armon: Lincoln TRIED to continue jailing prisoners without the benefit of habeus corpus (often armed men within sight of the White House advancing with intent to destroy the government), but true to the Constitution, the courts of his day, overruled him. Different environment today. Also different today is the killing of 100's of 1,000's is saved for the civilian populations of foreign lands. As for comment #4 - RSJH, you can find all kinds of inexpensive copies of Lincoln's writings overstocked or remaindered at deep discounts. (Don't pay retail, boytchik!)

(5) Armon ben Binyamin, November 23, 2008 10:59 PM

Wonderful words, dispicable acts

Much of what Lincolm penned has been saved for posterity because they were truly beautiful words. We must not forget however, that this man was responsible for the deaths of 600,ooo men. In the North, those who spoke out against this President were jailed without trial. Thus the words from his pen were wonderful, but his heart was evil.

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