The New York Times dated October 19, 1966 was one of the few newspapers we’ve unearthed which printed the full text of LBJ’s eloquent Thanksgiving Proclamation – a message still worthy of consideration a half-century later. If anyone knows of other titles which printed it, we would love to hear about it. In our opinion, it’s that good. Happy Thanksgiving.
I traveled to Boston today by the way of the Independent Chronicle dated October 14, 1816. I found “By His Excellency John Brooks, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, A Proclamation, for a day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer.” had been proclaimed. This was to be held on the Thursday, November 28.
Also found was an article entitled “Sabbath Laws” in which Judge Putnam “…repealed all former provisions upon the subject whether by statue or common law; that no act of labour, therefore, upon that day are lawful, except in cases of necessity or charity; and that prosecutions upon the statute are not within the exception…”. Too bad we cannot go back to those days…
Many are quite familiar with President Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of October, 1863. However, few have read or heard of his similar proclamation from a few month’s prior which helped build the foundation for his famous October proclamation. The Star of the West, July 25, 1863 contains the text (see images below) of this earlier declaration calling for a day of thanksgiving and prayer – words which are apropos as we prepare (in the U.S.) to celebrate Thanksgiving. Note: We’ve included the text of this famous proclamation below.
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
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 defense, 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, tranquility 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
As Thanksgiving (U.S.) rapidly approaches, we thought we’d bring everyone’s attention to various Thanksgiving-themed posts from the past. Please enjoy:
This weeks travels took me to Boston, Massachusetts, by the way of The Liberator dated November 4, 1864. There I found President Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation for a National Thanksgiving. “It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad, and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health… Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart, the last Thursday in November next, as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God, and the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the universe; and I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid, that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust, and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers supplications to the Great Disposer of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land, which it has pleased him to assign as a dwelling-place for ourselves and our posterity throughout all generations… ABRAHAM LINCOLN.”
Since we are in the midst of the 150 anniversary of the Civil War, we thought some might enjoy exploring the mention of thanksgiving (holiday and otherwise) within CW era issues arranged in chronological order. The issues may be viewed at:
On this (American) day of thanksgiving, it seems appropriate to reflect on such a day from the past through the eyes of those who were embarking on what may have been the most historic event in U.S. history – July 4, 1776. A special thanks is in order for our friends in Scotland who captured this significant moment on the pages of the Edinburgh Evening Courant, dated September 2, 1776. Please enjoy:
Today I traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, through The Weekly Register of July 18, 1812. There I found President James Madison had issued “A Proclamation” to the people of The United States for a day of Humiliation and Prayer for “… their common vows and adorations to Almighty God, on this solemn occasion produced by the war… that turning the hearts of our enemies from the violence and injustice which sway their councils against us, he would hasten a restoration of the blessings of peace…”.
The very last item in this issue (see below) dealt with the newspaper receiving complaints on the irregularity in which it has been received. They were assuring the people that all the newspapers were being “…put into the post office at this place on the day of publication…” and that “.. The delays are upon the road… It is however, due to our excellent post office establishment to say that there are fewer complaints than were anticipated.” Some things apparently have not changed in 200 years…
Happy belated Thanksgiving from “The Traveler”! Even though it is a few days past the U.S. observance, my travels found me back at Thanksgiving again with the November 29, 1911 issue of The Courier from Coldwater, Michigan. The front page of the issue features a large Proclamation from the Chase S. Osborn, Governor of Michigan, setting aside Thursday, November 30th for a day of prayer, feasting and thanksgiving.
Additionally on the front page is an article “Thanksgiving in Coldwater – At the Churches, the State School and City Schools” which begins “Every one of the ninety-two million American citizens is called upon by the President of the United States (Taft) and the Governor of his state to lift up to Heaven the praises of his heart to the Giver of All on Thursday…”. The article then continues about the programs which were held in the schools, including “In the High School, in place of the regular chapel exercises there was read the Governor’s and President’s proclamations…”.
Separation of church and state? Something about this report just seemed good. Maybe we should revisit the old school ways???