Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks For Our Many Blessings

Sara Josepha Hale wrote to President Lincoln in 1863 urging our 16th President to set aside a day for our annual Thanksgiving and in her letter she wrote, "...You may have observed that for some years past there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day in all the States...."

On October 3, 1863 President Lincoln issued a proclamation and Ordered all government closed for a national day of Thanksgiving.

"The year that is drawing towards its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthy skies. To those 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 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 plough, the shuttle or the ship the axe has enlarged the boarders 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 consciousness of augmented strength and vigor is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increases of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath acknowledged 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, tranquility and union."
President Abraham Lincoln