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George Washington Thanksgiving Proclamation

President George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving Proclamation (pictured below). Then, President Lincoln made it a federal holiday with his 1863 Proclamation. With that, he invited American citizens to “set apart… the last Thursday of November… as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

The first presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation

First, here is a portion of the Thanksgiving Proclamation Issued by President George Washington on October 3, 1789:

“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and… to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God…Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign [the last] Thursday… of November… to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection… .”

“Inestimable blessings”

Next, this is an excerpt from President Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, dated October 20, 1864:

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November… as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.”

Finally, here is the first verse from “The President’s Hymn” written by William Augustus Muhlenburg for President Lincoln in 1863:

Give thanks, all ye people, give thanks to the Lord,
Alleluias of freedom with joyful accord:
Let the East and the West, North and South roll along,
Sea, mountain and prairie, one thanksgiving song.

George Washington Thanksgiving Proclamation

Lincoln Kennedy Presidential Continental

On this day in 1864, President Abraham Lincoln is elected to a second term.

Also on this day, in 1960, John F. Kennedy is elected president.

Of course, with the Civil War and the Cold War respectively, both presidents faced significant challenges. Sadly, both presidencies ended in assassination, and the list of supposed links between the two is legendary.

As we look back on revered presidents like Lincoln and Kennedy, we see that Americans tend to triumph in the the face of adversity. A ‘common thread’ runs through these triumphs, and we need look no further than their inaugural addresses to find it. We also find guidance for how to face our current challenges together.

From Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865:
The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.”

[A]s was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds… .”

 

From Kennedy’s inaugural address on January 20, 1961:
“And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.”

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

 

Abraham Lincoln Family

On this day in 1842, during their second engagement, Abraham Lincoln marries Mary Anne Todd at her sister’s home in Springfield, Illinois. Episcopal minister Reverend Charles N. Dresser officiated their marriage ceremony.

Mary’s gold wedding ring was inscribed with the words “A.L. to Mary, Nov. 4, 1842. Love is eternal.”

Although, the rainy day seemed to capture the storminess of their courtship and marriage. Please continue reading below the family portrait.

Abraham Lincoln marries Mary Todd
First, the Lincolns were both abolitionists, though most of Mary’s family fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Then, they lost their 11-year-old son Willie in 1862. Biographers believed they both suffered from depression.

Finally, Mary Todd sat next to her husband Abraham as he was assassinated at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1865.

Lincoln’s Last Words

Later, in 1882, Mary Lincoln told Baptist Pastor Noyes Miner that Lincoln’s last words, as he leaned in close to whisper to her:

“[W]e will not return immediately to Springfield. We will go abroad among strangers where I can rest. We will visit the Holy Land and see those places hallowed by the footsteps of the Savior.”

Those few words say quite a lot. Now, see Our “Abraham Lincoln Bible” t-shirt to learn he felt about “this Great book…”

Dewey Defeats Harry Truman

On this day in 1948, incumbent Harry S. Truman defeats challenger Thomas E. Dewey in the greatest upset in presidential election history.

This was despite the premature assertion of an early edition of the Chicago Tribune with the banner headline “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.”
(Yes, that’s Harry Truman holding that newspaper.)

Dewey Defeats Harry Truman

Go and Vote…

On Election Eve, concluding his Whistle Stop Train Tour, President Truman spoke from his home in Independence, Missouri. His remarks were carried on a nationwide radio broadcast, and here are a few of them:

“I believe with all my heart and soul that Almighty God has intended the United States of America to lead the world to peace… . We failed to meet our obligation… .

And now, my fellow citizens, the future welfare of our country is in your hands. I have told you the truth as God has given me wisdom to see the truth.

Go to the polls tomorrow and vote your convictions, your hopes, and your faith — your faith in the future of a nation that under God can lead the world to freedom and to peace.”

So, let us go to the polls next week and do the same! Meanwhile, lets us bear in mind what Samuel Adams said about voting:

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial MLK

On this day in 1983, President Ronald Reagan signs the bill designating a federal holiday to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January, close to his birthday on the fifteenth.

Let Freedom Ring

Next, what follows are several excerpts from President Reagan’s Remarks on Signing the Bill:

“Dr. King had awakened… a sense that true justice must be colorblind, and that among white and black Americans, as he put it, “Their destiny is tied up with our destiny, and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom; we cannot walk alone.

Across the country, he organized boycotts, rallies, and marches. Often he was beaten, imprisoned, but he never stopped teaching nonviolence. “Work with the faith”, he told his followers, “that unearned suffering is redemptive.”

[M]ost important, there was not just a change of law; there was a change of heart. The conscience of America had been touched. Across the land, people had begun to treat each other not as blacks and whites, but as fellow Americans.

But traces of bigotry still mar America. So, each year on Martin Luther King Day, let us not only recall Dr. King, but rededicate ourselves to the Commandments he believed in and sought to live every day: Thou shall love thy God with all thy heart, and thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. And I just have to believe that all of us—if all of us, young and old, Republicans and Democrats, do all we can to live up to those Commandments, then we will see the day when Dr. King’s dream comes true, and in his words, “All of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, ‘… land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.'”

Thank you, God bless you, and I will sign it.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

Battle of Yorktown surrender

On this day in 1781, General George Washington leads the final siege in the American colonies, known as the Battle of Yorktown.

It was perhaps the most important battle of the American Revolutionary War. In fact, it proved to be the final land battle, ending fighting in the colonies and in North America.

On October 17, following three weeks of non-stop, day-and-night bombardment, Lord Charles Cornwallis surrendered to General Washington.

Battle of Yorktown surrender

As a result of the defeat, the British government began to negotiate an end to the war. Then, the Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783.

Finally, after eight long years of war, the United States was a free and independent nation.

“The Invisible Hand”

Sure, it’s plain to see that General Washington led a sizable combined force of Continental and French troops. Yes, he had the aid of key figures such as Alexander Hamilton, Rochambeau, de Grasse, Lafayette, and others.

Still, President Washington made his view perfectly clear in his Inaugural Address in 1789 that:
“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the People of the United States.”

He went on: “Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.”

Battle of Yorktown

Get your shirt, here:

Emancipation Proclamation

On this day in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issues presidential order number 95. It was his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, setting a date of January 1, 1863 for the freedom of more than 3 million slaves.

“Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States… I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.”

The Proclamation references a date, September 22, 1862 once and January 1, 1863 three times. In each instance, the year is stated as: “in the year of our Lord.”

Finally, formalities aside, Lincoln closes the document with this powerful statement:
“And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.”

That right there is quintessential Our Lost Founding.

Emancipation Proclamation Abraham Lincoln