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President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday on October 3, 1863.Thanksgiving Day is for thanking and praising God, according to President Abraham Lincoln. Every year, Americans gather around their tables with family and friends in a day for thanksgiving and rest. While the holiday dates back to long before the establishment of our country, Thanksgiving became an official holiday for the entire United States when President Abraham Lincoln made it so in 1863.

The Civil War Raged 

In the midst of the American Civil War, Lincoln noted that the country’s industry and population were still growing. In the document officially instituting Thanksgiving as a national holiday, he explicitly credited this to nothing else but God's grace:

"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."

He then asked everyone in the country "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." That’s right. Thanksgiving is meant to be a day of thanksgiving and praise to God.

Healing Wounds 

Lastly, he requested that everyone pray for God to heal the country’s wounds, having particular concern for "widows, orphans, mourners, and the suffering" from the Civil War:

"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."

So, when you celebrate Thanksgiving, heed Lincoln's request and remember to set aside time to pray! Read the full text of Lincoln's document proclaiming Thanksgiving a national holiday, a proclamation from October 3, 1863.


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