The Best of Thanks in the Worst of Times 


Thanksgiving was proclaimed a national holiday on October 3, 1863. President Abraham Lincoln wrote with the cadence of an Old Testament prophet and the urgency of an Apostle. Elton Trueblood rightly called him a “theologian of American anquish.” His deep brow and frowning eyes tell of deep sorrow. The lines of his face are chisel marks of resilience. His almost grin is a testimony of his quick wit. His words of proclamation setting aside the 4th Thursday in November as a day for giving thanks to our Creator remind us that even in the worst of years (i.e, 1863) we have much to be thankful for. 

His words of proclamation appear in part:

“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.”

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