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Thanksgiving Day Greetings

May one give us peace in all our states. The other a piece for all of our plates.

It is Thanksgiving morning in the United States. Here in our nation’s Capital we take a break for a few days from the law, politics, policy and, yes, even the news, to give thanks for the many good things life has to offer.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863 is one that Yleem and I have frequently shared, year after year, with family and friends. It is appended below. Penned during a very challenging period for our Nation, it is nonetheless optimistic and forward-looking. As with just about everything our 16th President wrote, it sums up well what this great country is all about.

Enjoy this time with family and friends, recharge, and give thanks. For those defending liberty — in the military and other U.S. agencies — a special thank you for your work. And no matter where you may be this holiday weekend, including our non-American friends living here and abroad, we wish you and your families all the best this Thanksgiving Day.

Washington, DC, October 3, 1863

 The year that is drawing toward 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 can not 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 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 theater of military conflict, while that theater 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 plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well as the iron and coal as of our 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 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 imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full 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 3d day of October, A.D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth. 

Abraham Lincoln 

By the President: 

William H. Seward, 
Secretary of State.

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