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THE NATIONAL THANKSGIVING
From The Missouri Democrat, November 24, 1864.
This article was republished in the November-December 2001 issue of The Shrapnel .
The President's Proclamation Appointing Thursday, Nov. 24th, for that purpose.
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. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while he has opened to us new sources of wealth, and has crowned the labor of our working-men in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions.
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, 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 and supplications to the Great Disposer of events for a return of the inestimable blessings 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.
In testimony whereof I hereunto set my hand caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this 20th day of October, in the year of our Lord, 1864, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
Wm. H. Seward, Secretary of State
President Lincoln issued the first national Thanksgiving proclamation in 1863, and this first one is the most widely known. (The text of the 1863 proclamation is easily found in many places on the Internet by searching for Lincoln Thanksgiving proclamation.) Both it and the 1864 proclamation reprinted here speak to us today as well, reminding us of our blessings in times of national crisis.