Thanksgiving Day Proclamation – 1863

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

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48 Responses to Thanksgiving Day Proclamation – 1863

  1. Jacob Clore says:

    I concur with President Lincoln. Even in the best and worst of times, we should give thanks for the things that we do have. We should also pray for those who are going through rough times. I believe that giving thanks should be a daily occurrence. Celebrating what we are thankful for on Thanksgiving is a great start, but we should always be thankful for all that we have.

  2. Kristen Fisher says:

    I agree with Jake. Often we get caught up in what we want, and we forget what we have. We should be thankful everyday not just on Thanksgiving.

  3. Miles Rachner says:

    I also agree with the comments above about how we need to be thankful for everything that we have and not only on one day during Thanksgiving. However I think we have a larger problem then just a lack of thanks, but that overtime such holidays of remembrance have been taken for granted. I think quite a few people today just look at thanksgiving as a time to get off work and just eat large quantities of food. I am not saying this is a bad thing, but I am saying people are starting to lose the actual meaning of thanksgiving. The same is true for Christmas. Christmas is a Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. However it is not mainly seen as just a holiday where people exchange gifts and material things. It is also celebrated by a lot of people who may not even consider themselves Christians. Again I am not saying this is a bad thing, but these holidays are losing their actual meanings.

    • Courtney McPherson says:

      I agree with Miles, its somewhat disappointing how these holidays are evolving. And I find it very interesting, how much it relates back to the material we have discussed in our design appreciation class, how our society has been designed around advertisements. We advertise for holidays while others haven’t even happened yet, and it’s become a form of branding. What type of turkey did you eat, ham, or potatoes, where did you go black Friday shopping, what plane did you fly on (Southwest, American, etc.). I think we should give thanks and pray for others at all times of the year, but with stores and commercials getting into the “spirit” extra early is inevitable.

  4. Lauren Nance says:

    In the midst of war, Abraham Lincoln still wanted his nation to be thankful even after all the turmoil they had been through. I think that was so important for them because they were encouraged to keep their focus on the things that really mattered in life. He helped them realize they had so much to be thankful for..not just on Thanksgiving, but everyday. We too should be the same. Even though our nation has faced hundreds of trials during the past ten years, there are so many things we take for granted that people fight hard to give us every day.

    • Ryan Jenvey says:

      I agree with Lauren. We talked about it in class the other day, how we take so many things for granted as American college students. Countless people have given their lives to give us our rights and the ability to have the things that we do. No matter the circumstances, there is always someone less fortunate than you.

  5. Haley Ward says:

    I completely agree with the three comments above me. It is true that in this day and age, we tend to get so wrapped up in our own lives and forget to stop and remember why we do the things we do and celebrate these holidays. I also agree with Jacob and Kristen that giving thanks should not be limited to just Thanksgiving, but a routine thing.

  6. Anna Lehman says:

    I would have to also agree with what everyone else has already stated. It takes a real and dedicated leader to be able to stand back and remember what is truly important in the midst of turmoil. It is important to give thanks everyday for what we have been given, and not to be too busy to forget what really matters.

  7. Thomas Nave says:

    I agree with everyone else’s statements regarding this post. In this modern day and age of materialism, we tend to lose sight of what’s really important in our lives. Everything is handed to us, so we take these things for granted, and do not appreciate what we have. I feel that we all need a wake-up call to get us back on track and appreciate everything like we should. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about.

  8. Emma Douglas says:

    I agree with the above statements made by my colleagues. Today, people lose sight of what is truly important because many live their lives looking through a cloud of material wealth. Most holidays have become reasons to get something in return, rather considering the important things in life. It is incredibly important to take the time to truly recognize the meanings of these holidays and to realize what really matters in everyday life.

    • Courtney H says:

      Like everyone has said, I too agree with everyone above me. Thanksgiving is not the only day we should be grateful for not only the material wealth we have in our lives, but the important people and values we hold close to our hearts. Abe Lincoln called his nation to be thankful even after suffering a great loss, and no matter what turmoil we go through in life, we need to approach our lives with the same mindset.

  9. Rachel E. says:

    I completely agree with everyone above as well. People always seem to forget the important things because we are so blinded by all the flashy things in the world that supposedly bring people great happiness. When we are blinded we forget what is truly important until we lose them, this is why we must give thanks everyday. Giving thanks will help remind us of all the good things we have in the world rather than thinking about all the things we want.

  10. Annie Walsack says:

    Like everyone else, I agree with President Lincoln. It is so important for people to remember what is good in their lives. It is so easy to lose sight of everything that we do have because we are blinded by seeing everything that we don’t have. Taking the time to remember and be grateful for all the wonderful things and people in our lives is such an easy thing to do. The more we remember to be grateful, the happier we will be.

  11. Catherine (Cate) Beach says:

    Everyone above has said what I think perfectly. Abraham Lincoln is a man of great strength and respect, as he is able to stand back and see the beauty of the world and the life given to us. People forget to be grateful for the little things which in return are the most important of all. In this speech he reminds us that no matter how grim it looks, there is always a reason to be happy a grateful, and that above all is the mere joy of life and those you celebrate it with. There is a quote that means a lot to me and relates perfectly to this, it is as follows: ” Do not regret growing older, for it is a privilege denied to many”. Meaning that life is a beautiful fragile gift that you must cherish, do not waste it and be ungrateful as many others haven’t had the chance to live their life as they were cut short from it too early.

  12. James Comstock says:

    The comments above are right on point. I believe that every one needs to be thankful for what they have, every day. It is interesting how these “National” holidays have evolved over time and have changed how many people celebrate their thanks. Abraham Lincoln always has wonderful speeches to read, and his idea that he is trying to get across is always very important. Along with Cate, I agree that people do forget to be grateful for the little things which in return happen to be the most important. My family goes hunting over Thanksgiving and to me, this reminds me of our ancestors who have come before us and how they celebrated such a wonderful time of the year.

  13. Courtney Green says:

    I definitely agree with what others have been saying above. This just shows what a great leader Abraham Lincoln was. Even during this time of conflict, he was still grateful.This shows that even when everything seems to be going wrong, there are still things in life that need to be appreciated. I admire he fact that Abraham lincoln tried to lead the citizens in a very positive way. He made sure that people celebrated the holiday even in times of crisis.

  14. Esther Jeong says:

    I feel like our culture has put so much emphasis on the “I”. What “I” can get out x, y, z. Instead of looking at what you already have and be satisfied, people only want more and more. I read this quote once online, “What if God gave you everything you thanked him for yesterday?”. This struck me. Because I don’t give thanksgiving very often. I would have nothing. Some days all i would have is my dinner. Some days I would have a lot more. There one woman who wrote a book about 1000 things she is thankful for and it changed her life. Giving thanks, rather than focusing on what I can get out of something is a life changing decision.

  15. Emma Reeves says:

    This speech, along with many of Lincoln’s speeches, demonstrates his capability as a leader. By focusing on empathy towards his followers, he appealed to pretty much every kind of audience across America whether they were from the north or south. He also exhibits profound intelligence through his use of language. Both empathy and intelligence are traits that contributed to his popularity as a leader.

  16. Zack Snow says:

    I think Lincoln’s use of religious ideals, which obviously appealed to the vast majority of Americans at the time, to tie everyone together in a time where political tension is reaching a boiling point is very clever. It is a clear attempt to bring everyone together and create a sense of “us” and “we” between the North and the South. I think it is essential not just for a good orator but a good leader to recognize who is audience or followers are and to try to create a sense of unity. I also enjoyed almost everyone just writing that they agreed with the people above them. 😀

  17. Adam says:

    I appreciate Abraham Lincoln’s religious strength. Similarly to Martin Luther King, he gets strength from God. It is great that he gives thanks to the people and the lord who gives him the faith to be a courageous leader.

  18. Patrick Lawrence says:

    Everyone’s comments are pretty much right on point. We all are incredibly lucky to live in this great country and to attend Virginia Tech is a blessing in itself. We have all had pretty easy lives as far as being able to live without worry and have everything handed to us. We take what we have for granted but we all need to take a step back and really look at the big picture from a different point of view and understand how fortunate we really are.

  19. Alexander Jones says:

    Like others have said, I agree with President Lincoln. Everyone should be thankful for what we have, whether life is at a high or low then. There are always those worse off than you are, and you should be thankful that things are as good as they are and wish better for those who have it worse. It really is a shame that the “thanks” in Thanksgiving has been overshadowed by the football, parades, and Black Friday shopping in the recent decades.

  20. Victoria Gray says:

    Abraham Lincoln is by far one of our wisest presidents because of his respect of the people, land, and Lord. I believe that he is exactly right in his statement that we should praise the Lord for the many blessings that each person has in this nation on Thanksgiving Day, as well as, every day. Even in the midst of turmoil, we should stay a thankful nation who focuses on God.

  21. Daniel M says:

    People tend to lose sight of the things that matter in life. Especially for the recent generation, materialism is all the rage. Just look at the week of Thanksgiving: one day we are being thankful, the next we are starting riots to get 5 dollars off on a t-shirt. Can’t we all just be thankful for what we have?

  22. Katy Kelly says:

    Showing that you are thankful for the things you have everyday is so important. I feel as if people very rarely show that appreciation. Lincoln is an extremely influential person and is very smart when it comes stating the facts and making people think about the things that they overlook. Everyone has something that they can be thankful for, even if their day is less than satisfactory.

  23. kelsey edmonds says:

    Abraham Lincoln was a very effective leader because he was able to relate to the people and create a sense of unity. He constantly stood back from the central situation and looked at things optimistically so he could give thanks. I strongly agree with many of things he is saying along with many of classmates comments. People in this world have definitely strayed away from the meaning of these holidays. Instead, it has been a norm in our society to value materialistic things and keep wanting more and more of them. Even though it is not a holiday like Thanksgiving, we must always be thankful for the little things that go unnoticed and be grateful for what we have.

  24. Jake Brown says:

    Having and showing thanks for the blessings in life is one idea that should never leave our minds. I agree that Lincoln was able to point out to people that there were factors in their life for which they needed to show thanks. He and alot of our other presidents are things I am thankful for. Men whom have lead this country in a great way.

  25. Emily Hucks says:

    Like everyone else I agree that we should be thankful for everyday we have on this earth and not just show it on Thanksgiving. I also agree with Miles when he said that we are starting to lose the meaning of the actually holiday. Instead of giving thanks for what we have we worry about how much work we will get off and what deals we will get the next day instead of being thankful for what we actually already have. It takes a strong leader to make people see that there are still things to be thankful for even in the event of a war or other disaster.

  26. Francisco Gabitan says:

    “You’ll never know what you got till it’s gone”. Some people don’t realize that they have it so good compared to the rest of the world yet they take life for granted or aren’t thankful enough. I’ll be honest, sometime I forget this as well but when it comes down to it I am truly thankful for the things I am able to do and enjoy today. I’m thankful that we have a blog post such as this where we can share our ideas because in some places of the world, speaking your mind can mean death.

  27. Carly Scullin says:

    I agree with Abraham Lincoln and basically everyone else in this post that we should be thankful for what we have everyday. I think it is important to set conflict aside for a little bit and enjoy what life has to offer. Sometimes we forget other peoples side of the story and only focus on our self, and I believe it is important to remember that we are not all the same and have different backgrounds.

  28. Cat Hauser says:

    I agree. I think people forget what they are actually thankful for until thanksgiving day comes when they are forced to actually remember everything in life they are thankful for, like family and friends. Of course, I am always thankful for my friends, family, military, education, and things of that sort, but I never actually spend time to think about that in my daily life, so Abraham Lincoln was a smart man in making thanksgiving.

  29. Taylor McClain says:

    Abraham Lincoln was a great leader because he had charisma and great communication skills. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year because it focuses on what is truly important. These things were highlighted by President Lincoln. He mentions the abundance of blessings that we have by living in this country. I like how he points out that we sometimes forget about the simple things in life that we have every day. It’s important to keep things in perspective and to be thankful to live in this great country. Lincoln really couldn’t have said it any better.

  30. John jones says:

    Abraham Lincoln was a phenomenal leader in many ways. Sometimes when you are caught up in the busy modern world of today you forget the importance of the little things. I think he captured this idea completely with his proclamation of thanksgiving. However from this we should learn to be thankful everyday for all we have instead of just one day a year.

  31. David Bohn says:

    I agree with many of the comments posted above. As a society we are very based on what we want and need. When we really should be content with everything we already have. Thanksgiving is a day when we should step back, and realize what we already have and how blessed we are. When we look at the big picture, many of our “must haves” we can really do without.

  32. Anna Fox says:

    I agree with President Lincoln’s speech. In the worst of times it is most important to remember what we are thankful for because those are the things that keep us going during hard times. This is such a timeless speech because we will always be going through hard times; we simply need to remember the good things in our lives and push on. We can’t take what we have for granted because there will forever be many people that have much less than us.

  33. Will Coffey says:

    It is important for us to be thankful for what we have, everyday. I know that I probably focus too much on unimportant material possessions that I definitely can live without. Thanksgiving indeed should especially help us realize how blessed and fortunate we are. I do feel like the real purpose or meaning of some holidays these days has been forgotten and overshadowed by other activities. People should take time to realize how well off they are and reflect on what the true meaning of the holiday is.

  34. Crista Watson says:

    Abe was truly a great man, president and leader. I really like his ideas in this speech and I feel like it really does show the real meaning of Thanksgiving. I am thankful for what I have and feel like we take so many things for granted.

  35. Kristina Gallagher says:

    I completely agree with President Lincoln. I believe that even through stressful times or times when we feel like nothing is going our way, we need to remember what we do have and be thankful. We should live by the idea of “giving thanks in all circumstances”.

  36. Andrew says:

    President Lincoln was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, presidents the US ever saw; I completely agree with this piece. We have so much to be thankful for and it is time that we recognize it!

  37. Luke Carroll says:

    So often do we as a society get caught up in our individual lives that we forget the big picture and all of the freedoms that we have that allow us to live those individual lives to ou liking. President Lincoln does an excellent job of humbling not only himself but the entire nation into remembering the little things in life that make it what it is. He hones in on us being thankful, yes this was written near thanksgiving but he speaks of a more ubiquitous sense of thanks and how it should not be a once a year thing but omni-present. And I agree with Andrew, Lincoln was one of the greatest presidents that our country has had and the way that Lincoln ties in his strong faith base into everything he said or did speaks to his character and moral base that gives validity to this statement.

  38. Luke Carroll says:

    So often do we as a society get caught up in our individual lives that we forget the big picture and all of the freedoms that we have that allow us to live those individual lives to our liking. President Lincoln does an excellent job of humbling not only himself but the entire nation into remembering the little things in life that make it what it is. He hones in on us being thankful, yes this was written near thanksgiving but he speaks of a more ubiquitous sense of thanks and how it should not be a once a year thing but omni-present. And I agree with Andrew, Lincoln was one of the greatest presidents that our country has had and the way that Lincoln ties in his strong faith base into everything he said or did speaks to his character and moral base that gives validity to this statement.

  39. Dixon Holland says:

    Mr. Lincoln proves to be a perfect example of a leader because he wants the entire nation to come together on a day of thanksgiving, and be thankful for all of the gifts we have received. Thanksgiving is a perfect time for the entire nation to come together, and love one another, and to unite with each other as one powerful and beautiful nation.

  40. Hoo In Won says:

    His thanksgiving speak is remarkable in sense that he got everyone in nation together. He is example of perfectly adequate leaders, who are able to appreciate what they have and be thankful to given situation.

  41. Lindsay DeMers says:

    There are lots of tragic things that go on in the world, but a lot of the time, it seems like thats what it takes for people to realize what they have. We’ve become too complacent, and now it take bad things happening to other people to remind us and serve as our wake up call. For example, I’m sure the Connecticut shooting stirred waves of great thanksgiving in people who didn’t lose anyone. I’m not saying that these awful events are good, but they do have the benefit of making us more aware of all the good in our lives and how grateful we should be, but it is an ugly thing that it takes so much for us to realize this.

  42. Libby Howe says:

    Thanksgiving is one day in particular when we remember to unpack our knapsacks. Those privileges we take for granted are recognized for what they are: gifts. But why just on this one day? Why does it require an entire holiday, a feast of food, and a plethora of relaxing football games to slow us down enough to show us what we have? Sure, it’s incredibly difficult to stop and think, “Hey, my family is healthy, my friends and I are all furthering our education at great colleges, and I don’t have to worry about whether or not I’ll have enough money for dinner tonight.” But just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.
    Our knapsacks are bulging at the seams and we need to remember that every day, not just Thanksgiving.

  43. Kyle Rushton says:

    I enjoyed reading President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation because it reminds us of everything that we should be thankful for. We often get caught up in the rush of everyday life and forget to stop and think about the privileges we have to do these things. Though Lincoln is right in having a day of thanks, I believe that everyday we should give thanks. We should remind ourselves more often of everything that we are privileged with.

  44. Kyla Mauro says:

    I agree with everyone, when things are not going your way and you just want to give up is the most important time to remember what you are thankful for. Giving thanks and being reminded what we really have, and the things we take advantage of everyday, can help see how good we really have it.

  45. Jerry Huang says:

    I find it interesting how a man who suffered from depression his entire life is able to put aside his poor humor for a short while to assuage the possibly stressful emotions of a colder season and political tension. It seems as if it has become a civic duty for the president to serve as a peaceful and calming figure. This can be taken as a good and bad thing as it may portray a facade and never speak of the actual consequences or situation that the people may be in.

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