Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Message

I would like to thank all of you, my readers, for your business during the past year.  Karen and I have been truly blessed by the confidence you have shown when you purchase our books and products.

I hope all of you are surrounded by family and/or friends tomorrow and have the opportunity to give thanks for all the blessings we enjoy. When you give thanks, please take a moment to remember our soldiers, sailors and airmen who are spending this day far from home and the families who also serve by doing their part during the long periods of separation. It is their service that gives us the blessings of freedom we all enjoy not only tomorrow but on every day.

One hundred and forty-seven years ago, two years into the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln set aside the last Thursday in November as a permanent day of Thanksgiving. He was not the first president to issue a Thanksgiving proclamation, but he was the first to set aside a specific day to celebrate it.

I thought you might enjoy reading the proclamation he issued that day. There is so much in it that is still relevant today.

Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

(from the collection of Lincoln’s papers in the Library of America series, Vol II, pp. 520-521).

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 unequalled 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 had 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 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.

It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.

– Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation October 3, 1863

1 Comment

  1. Thanks so much for publishing Lincoln’s proclamation. Made over 140 years ago, the statement is a profound testament to the blessings we enjoy and from whence they come. Our lives are truly enriched when we remember with gratitude.

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