Thankful that Sarah and Abe gave us Thanksgiving

21 Nov

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

When we think about the origins of Thanksgiving, we seem to always reflect on Pilgrims and Native Americans sitting down to share their harvest in Plymouth sometime after 1620.

But the truth about Thanksgiving  is that the official holiday only dates back to 1863.  True credit for officially creating this most-American of all holidays goes to a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale, and to the 16th President of the United States.

I have incredible admiration and a fascination for Abraham Lincoln, and can’t wait to see the new Speilberg movie. Despite great risk to himself and his legacy, we all know that he ended slavery and saved the Union. But he also gave us a totally worry-free day each year, where we can reflect on all of the wonderful things we have, and share food and good fortune with those we love the most.

Sarah and Abe. They gave us Thanksgiving.

It was during the Civil War, and Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor wrote a letter to Lincoln on Sept. 28, 1863, to request that the president have “a day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.”

Until then, Thanksgiving had been an informal regional holiday. Considering the need for something to unite us during a brutal Civil War, Lincoln was moved by Hale’s suggestion to make it a national holiday.

The following is Lincoln’s actual proclamation. And it’s worth reading.

From the Croce family to your family. Happy Thanksgiving!

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

2 Responses to “Thankful that Sarah and Abe gave us Thanksgiving”

  1. Greg R. November 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    Even though Lincoln was a Republican he was very much more a modern day Democrat in his political beliefs. Today’s Republicans like Richard Tisei and Scott Brown are not representative of Lincoln’s Republicanism. Lincoln would have rebuked the kind of radical right wing extremism today’s Republican party espouses.

    Some say Massachusetts is home to more moderate Republicans like Tisei, Brown, and Charlie Baker but they are not moderate at all in my view they simply pose as moderates to try and trick independent voters into supporting them.

    We see that this doesn’t work as Deval Patrick beat Charlie Baker, John Tierney beat Richard Tisei and Elizabeth Warren beat Scott Brown.

    The Republican party in Massachusetts has gone the way of the old Whig party and the same thing is happening nationally. You can’t disparage 47% of the public as freeloaders and then then expect to win elections.

    Kudos to the blogger for his honoring Lincoln and kudos to the voters of Massachusetts for turning away radical Republican extremism.

  2. Bob Croce November 21, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    Greg,
    I’d love to dispute your contention that Scott Brown, Richard Tisei and Charlie Baker are somehow “right wingers,” but in the spirit of Thanksgiving … peace brother. We can save that for another day. At least we both agree that Lincoln was, arguably, our greatest president. I think we’ve all had enough to partisan politics the past few months, and need a timeout.

    My best to you and your family.

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