Lincoln establishes a national Thanksgiving Day…

November 26, 2009 by  
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Appropriate for this day we show photos of the official Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln establishing the “…last Thursday in November…” as a day of Thanksgiving.

In the midst of the Civil War and with the troubles the nation was facing, he thought it appropriate that: “…fellow citizens in every part of the United States…to act apart & observe…a day of Thanksgiving & Prayer to our beneficent Father…due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national…disobedience, commend to His tender care…implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation & to restore it...” (see photos).

This text appeared in the New York Daily Tribune of October 5, 1863.  A beautifully written piece by the President in the midst of so much national turmoil & bloodshed.   Please enjoy:


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One Response to “Lincoln establishes a national Thanksgiving Day…”

  1. Charles Signer on December 2nd, 2009 1:27 am

    According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln’s secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary that he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops. This is not to diminish the quality of the document or Lincoln’s talent for composing speeches himself, which is well established. For many years American presidents have used professional writers to compose documents and speeches. They just don’t have the time to do everything themselves

    I saw an 1863 New York newspaper recently which had a Thanksgiving proclamation by Lincoln with the observance being in early August, not November. Evidently the August date did not work for most people, since the country was too busy fighting a civil war. In late November, which is the subject of the declaration pictured here, the weather was getting too cold for fighting in many places. People had more time for Thanksgiving then and the holiday was widely observed. This was also in keeping with the time of year first established by Washington’s proclamation in 1789, so late November has remained as Thanksgiving time every since.

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