Thursday, November 26, 2015

PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S DECLARATION OF THE FIRST OFFICIAL THANKSGIVING DAY IN AMERICA (1863)

During the Civil War, in October 1863, the greatest American President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens", to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.. Thus, began one of the most important observances in western civilization, where citizens of an entire country give thanks to the One and Only True God in Heaven, for the blessings He has bestowed upon us all. President Lincoln knew the power of God, of prayer and of giving thanks where it was due. 

The fourth Thursday of every November is now the official day of Thanksgiving in America. For us Christians, every moment of every hour of every day of our lives, is the opportunity to give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, and His mercy, kindness and long-suffering, endure and last a lifetime to us! Amen. We also give thanks, on this glorious day (and each day) to our Great God in Heaven who saves us by His Grace, through His Son and His Sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary - Jesus Christ. To Him we declare "Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!  Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! (1 Chronicles 16:8-10)

Here is the official proclamation from President Lincoln, on the day he declared as our first Thanksgiving:

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.
Proclamation by President Lincoln.
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 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 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 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 States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State


Credits:
Thanksgiving Photo: "Thanksgiving-Brownscombe" by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe - Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal 

Thanksgiving Meal: "TraditionalThanksgiving" by Ben Franske - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons - 
President Lincoln Photo: Public Domain (over 100 years old)

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