William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Thursday, 25, November, 2010

Thanksgiving

Filed under: History — williamthecoroner @ 01:07

Today is the day of Thanksgiving in the United States. I recently ran into someone who was a Jehovah’s Witness, who declined to celebrate Thanksgiving, for reasons that he could not articulate. He said it was an ancient pagan ceremony. I said that I did not realize Abraham Lincoln was pagan, and I didn’t think 1863 was all that ancient, in the grand scheme of things. I got a funny look for that statement.

But the fact remains, in 1863, after the Union victories of Gettysburg and Vicksburg marked the high-water mark of the Confederacy. Though the war would drag onwards for another eighteen months or so, in late 1863 the tide had turned, and in honour of which, Abraham Lincoln made a presidential proclamation of thanksgiving–which follows:

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

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 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 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 consiousness 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 Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

It is certainly fitting to be grateful for the gifts that we have been given. My grandfather always told me “Never say, ‘How bad can it get?’ It can always get worse.” I am lucky for all that I have, lucky for antibiotics and modern medicine, with useful work that I do that makes a difference, and good people to be around.

Today, I will have the traditional Chinese take-away, with the ritual wonton soup, the egg rolls, the spare ribs and the mu shu. I’ll get that while the pie is baking. I hope you all enjoy your families.

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4 Comments »

  1. Enjoy your day! You are right, we’ve all got a lot to be thankful for.

    Comment by julie — Thursday, 25, November, 2010 @ 02:36 | Reply

  2. Thank you for the education. It never occurred to me to look up the actual history of Thanksgiving. Nice to know the public school system in California falsified history. Wow.

    Have a happy Thanksgiving!

    Comment by Liota — Thursday, 25, November, 2010 @ 05:46 | Reply

  3. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours William!

    Comment by Old NFO — Thursday, 25, November, 2010 @ 14:21 | Reply

  4. Feasts have been held to show thanks for divine providence or to celebrate the harvest in many cultures, including the USA; the official holiday is what we owe to Lincoln [and the various department stores which seized on the day as a way to open the Christmas shopping season!].

    We’ll pass without comment over the spectacular levels of historical ignorance that sometimes gets distilled in certain social groups….

    Comment by rethoryke — Saturday, 27, November, 2010 @ 10:12 | Reply


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