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Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation - October 3, 1863

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The first Thanksgiving celebrations in America were held in 1619 in Virginia and at Plymouth in the Massachusetts colony.  Presidents George Washington and James Madison both issued thanksgiving proclamations, but it was left to President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 to establish Thanksgiving Day as a formal and regular holiday:




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 commonly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they can penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the 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 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.  Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battlefield; 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 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 to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility 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 sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.


by the President:  Abraham Lincoln


William H. Seward,

Secretary of State



Source:  Civil War Trust website


               * * * * * * *



Happy Thanksgiving to all our Shiloh Discussion Group members and their families.




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It seemed timely to revisit this topic, initiated by Manassas1 in 2014, because the Federal soldiers at Shiloh did not celebrate the National Holiday of Thanksgiving... until 1863. By Proclamation of President Lincoln, the date of that Holiday (first observed in 1863, and subsequently) was to be "the last Thursday in November." There was one controversial "adjustment" made in 1939 (during the FDR Administration) with a Law being passed a few years later, making that adjustment official... and the date is celebrated in accordance with that Law to this day: on the fourth Thursday in November.

[Just a bit of trivia: here in Australia, Thanksgiving is not a National Holiday. But there are parts of Australia that celebrate, regardless. Any guesses where?]

Regards (and Happy Thanksgiving!)



Reference:  http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/fdr-establishes-modern-thanksgiving-holiday   FDR adjustment to Thanksgiving



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Correct. (We augmented our celebration with a trip to Adelaide Zoo.)

As concerns the rest of Australia... the U.S. Government Diplomatic Mission in Canberra has its way(s) of celebrating.

And the Island of Norfolk (technically under Australian Administration): as well as being the home of descendants of the HMS Bounty Mutiny, became a home-of-sorts to American sealers and whalers two centuries ago... and those men brought the Celebration of Thanksgiving with them. Norfolk Island has Thanksgiving as an official holiday.




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