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Following the end of the Battle of Gettysburg, President Lincoln
proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving and later that year proclaimed another
day of thanks which is now celebrated annually the fourth Thursday in
November. Along with that proclamation, Lincoln made the following
address, widely known as Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving
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 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
had 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 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,
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 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

President
Lincoln did not start off his proclamation by focusing on the problems
of the day, instead he gave thanks to God for what the country had — the
proper order of prayer.

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