Thanksgiving in the Words of Abraham Lincoln

By Gary Toebben

Giving thanks for our blessings on a special day has been a part of America’s history since 1621. George Washington was the first president to declare a day of Thanksgiving in 1789, but it was not until 1863 that Thanksgiving became an established holiday on America’s calendar.

On Oct. 3, 1863, three months after the battle of Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as America’s annual day of Thanksgiving. His proclamation reminded a nation at war with itself that even in times of great conflict, the United States has much for which to be thankful. Here are the President’s words:

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 … 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.

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 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.

I wish the same blessings on America this week as we join with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving 2013.

And that’s The Business Perspective.

 

The Business Perspective is a weekly column by Gary Toebben, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, produced with the input of Public Policy staff.

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November 27, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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