Worth reading: Lincoln's Proclamation of Thanksgiving

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From: John Murtari (jmurtari@AKidsRight.org)
Date: Thu Nov 22 2007 - 08:03:06 EST

Good People & People of Faith,

We all recognize Abraham Lincoln as one of the greatest Presidents,
but in 1863, when he wrote the following message, it would be fair to
say he was 'hated' by a large portion of the public.  The Civil War
was unpopular, there were anti-draft riots, and 'winning' the war was
not a certainty.  Lincoln would also be standing for re-election in
1864 (and while he did win by a large amount), at this time his
chances were regarded as 'slim'. Republican leader Thurlow Weed wrote
to Secretary of State William Seward, "I have told Mr. Lincoln that
his re-election was an impossibility."

Was Lincoln perfect? No. But what made him a great man was a sense of
humility, his committment to ideals and even though engaged in a Civil
War -- he did not 'hate' the people of the South.  Perhaps we can all
learn how to proceed in our struggle agains injustice by reading his
simple message.


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.  

- A. Lincoln
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