Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 1863

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on November 24, 2011

The year opened with President Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation. Early in the Spring fighting season three days of battle at Chancellorsville killed more than 3000. In late April General Grant initiated the campaign that eventually captured Vicksburg.  Over the first days of July the Union prevailed at Gettysburg, but like most great battles it might easily have gone the other way.

In mid-July several days of draft riots and racial attacks rocked New York City. Some historians claim 2000 were killed. Order was restored using artillery and fixed bayonets. In late August irregulars massacred 183 civilian men and boys in Lawrence, Kansas. Americans would continue to kill Americans for two more years. More than 600,000 died on the battlefield or a bit later of wounds.  The total population — North and South — was 34.4 million.

In the midst of this relentlessly bloody struggle of brother against brother, Lincoln called for giving thanks.   Even as the very existence of the United States was  reasonably in doubt, the President pointed to progress.  While our great-grandfathers on each side were often consumed by self-righteous anger, Lincoln invited the whole people to acknowledge our national perverseness and pray for peace, harmony, tranquillity and union.

Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day

October 3, 1863

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 had 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 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.


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Comment by Our Beloved Republic

November 25, 2011 @ 8:41 am

Thank you Philip, yes, We have much to be grateful for in our many Blessings….

Pingback by Thanksgiving Day - White Gunpowder

November 14, 2014 @ 6:41 pm

[…]   Abraham Lincoln / Proclamation & signature /  A. Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation – 3 pages / give […]

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