Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863
Published by: Bear Acuda
On October 3, 1863, America was as divided as we’ve ever been. We were well into the 3rd year of the Civil War, and things were looking bleak for a unified America. In an effort of expanding hope throughout the Union, President Abraham Lincoln decided to take a page from one of America’s finest leaders, George Washington, by giving a Thanksgiving Proclamation of his own. He even did it on the same day (Oct. 3). Lincoln also expanded upon it, making Thanksgiving a national holiday, enshrining it into American culture from that day forward.
What you are about to read came directly from the mouth of President Lincoln.
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
At a time when America most needed to take a deep breath and remember the important values that made us great, Lincoln delivered. Once again, Lincoln did what presidents before him could not, or would not.
So, what does Thanksgiving mean to you? Do his values surrounding the holiday still hold true in 2023 America?
Feel free to join the conversation and let me know your take! Let loose in the comment section or tweet me your response @BearAcudaBBN.