Guest Musing: A Word from Our President

This Musing may not be what you expect. Abraham Lincoln is my guest, but I am not reprinting his proclamation setting the precedent for a national observance of Thanksgiving. That proclamation is well worth reading, with its call, “…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…,” especially if your children have been taught that the day is meant to thank the Indians. However, that is not the guest Musing I have in mind for this Thanksgiving. 

Instead, this year, our family is planning to read a different proclamation of President Lincoln. Let’s face it: Thanksgiving is fun, with its huge meal, football game and preparation for shopping. Maybe we would be better off as a nation if in addition to Thanksgiving, another day that President Lincoln (and other American presidents) called for entered our national consciousness on an annual basis. I am speaking of his call for a day  for ‘National Prayer and Humiliation.’ While I think that the meaning of the word ‘humiliation’ has probably evolved to  ‘humility’ in our day, the call should ring stridently in our ears. 

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

In witness 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 thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with gratitude, prayer, humility, family, friends, and yes, great food.

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6 thoughts on “Guest Musing: A Word from Our President”

  1. Decadence is pecan-chocolate pie – that’s what we have though sometimes it is pumpkin-pecan instead. Because of nut allergies it can’t come to the main table, but one of my daughters put in a special request for sneaking in the kitchen after the meal.
    I think it safe to say that a scary proportion of the population doesn’t know what war took place during President Lincoln’s days and when that was. I’d say very few actually read primary documents.

  2. Thanks for posting that Susan. I wonder how many people have never read it. I wonder if the US will ever have great men such as Mr. Lincoln, lead us again. That depends on the people. Great men are out there but the people need to seek them out. Today’s media would have destroyed Mr Lincoln and his reputation. We the people must dig deeper than just the surface. We have so much to lose. I listened to Mark Levin’s conversation with Victor Davis Hanson from Tuesday discussing Mr. Obama’s last year. It will be devastating. And no one to stand up to it. I feel we are defenseless against his destruction.
    I am happy to say I didn’t eat so much I was uncomfortable. I did have my once a year piece of pecan pie. Oh the decadence! Blessings!

  3. What a fantastic musing. Are we having a chance this next presidential election to move more in the direction of a president that speaks like this? We have moved so far away from it! Vigilance, and I have to add, god-fearing humility, are the price of freedom. Perhaps they are the blessing to the free, as well.

  4. God bless you both, your mission, and your family and families! I give thanks for all the things that you teach us, that slip through the cracks when reading Scripture in translation. Pardon me while I go and cook and eat way too much turkey!

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