As I mentioned in an earlier post, Abraham Lincoln made a proclamation in 1863 declaring Thanksgiving to be a National holiday. After the Civil War some of the Southerners considered it a northern holiday, but in time all did.
Below is the proclamation made by Abraham Lincoln on Oct. 3, 1863. What is rather interesting is I found this copy of the proclamation went out as an invitations to American's living in London, England at the time. You can view the entire document at Google Books American Thanksgiving Dinner at St. James Hall, London, Thursday November 26, 1863.
Included in this document is the menu, the program, and the remarks of the event.
Below is simply the copy of the President Lincoln's Proclamation:
A PROCLAMATION BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
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 cannot fail to penetrate and soften 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 invite and provoke the aggressions of foreign States, 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.
The needful diversions of wealth and strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the Bhip. 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 aud the battle-field, and the country rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigour 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 Prayer to our beneficient 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 sixtythree, and of the independence of the United States the eightyeighth.
By the President, William H. Seward,
Secretary of State.