Call to Gratitude: Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Abraham Lincoln, three-quarter length portrait...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 50

“But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.

    If you keep to my path,
    I will reveal to you the salvation of God.”
Psalm 50:23 (NLT)

For those of us in the U.S., the Thanksgiving holiday is just a few weeks away. Today’s chapter reminds us multiple times that God is honored by “sacrifices of thanks.” I believe if we were truly honest we would admit to giving little thought to the act of actually giving thanks on Thanksgiving. Despite a nod to sharing one thing we’re thankful for before we dig in to our meal, I tend to believe that our hearts and minds are more typically filled with thoughts of food, football and black friday shopping.

When Abraham Lincoln issued his proclamation making Thanksgiving an official holiday, he was clearly calling U.S. citizens, divided in two by a terrible Civil War, to a day of humble and sincere thanks-giving to God. In the days before a national election, when it seems that our nation is largely divided into two camps of thought and engaged in a war of words, I think it might be beneficial for us all to read Lincoln’s plea for ourselves [note: italics added]:

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

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 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 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 consiousness 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 Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

2 thoughts on “Call to Gratitude: Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation”

  1. 3 Our God approaches,
    and he is not silent.

    Our Sunday school class has been studying a series of lectures that has been extremely enjoyable and one of the themes and take-aways from the Message is that our God speaks. That separates the Christian faith from many of the other beliefs that exist. Our God is a communicator and desires the same of us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.