Sometime for grins Google “details of Pilgrims first Thanksgiving.” You’ll discover that there was no “formal” Thanksgiving Day until President George Washington officially named the third Thursday in November Thanksgiving Day. It was not the Indians who shared their bounty with the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims shared their excess with the Indians.
What is important is that the first Americans began a tradition of on that special day saying “Thanks” for all that they had — a tradition most Americans still honor. In this era of Me-ism, it is a pleasant departure from our commonplace, everyday self-absorbed lives to think and look outside ourselves and upward to thank Almighty God for giving us the opportunity to live and thrive in the best environment on the Globe.
Please don’t be tempted to succumb to the fable propagated by many that America’s early leaders and founders did NOT include God and Christianity in our nation’s creation. There are far too many documents that include memoirs, letters and speeches that prove God was in it with them all along.
Thanksgiving ushers in a season of merriment, joy and thankfulness for many throughout the World, but especially for those in the U.S. In celebration of that season this year, please pause for a moment and try to imagine life in America in the 1800’s. You have read and been taught history that details much about life for those Americans. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln welcomed the Thanksgiving season with a proclamation that paints an amazing picture of what America had become, at least in his eyes. As you read his proclamation below, remember the nation at his writing was deep into the Civil War — a war in which before its ending would see half-a-million Americans died.
We have much for which to be thankful. May you and your family have a wonderful day of laughing, crying, remembering, and thanking each other and the Creator if for nothing else to be a citizen of the greatest country in World history.
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
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 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 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 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.
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.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State