Thanksgiving is kind of like standing in the eye of a hurricane. As more and more news stories surface of allegations of sexual misconduct, as North Korea continues to make noises like they want to blow us off the face of the map, as Congress floats yet another attempt at amnesty, we take a day to step back and count our blessings.

There is so much wrong in this world. There are countless problems that we face on a near daily basis. It feels like evil is running rampant. It feels like morality and decency have taken a beating and are on their last leg. It feels like Truth is rejected.

And yet, there remains a ray of hope. We live in America.

The greatest country in the world. The freest country in the world.

One of America’s foundational beliefs, going all the way back to the Pilgrims, was that if there’s something wrong in the world, we have not only the God-given duty, but the ability to fight against what is wrong, and stand for what is right. And with God’s help, we can see a change.

This is why the story of America is a story of progress. It is a story of human accomplishment beyond our wildest dreams. It is the story of tenacious struggle against evil. It is a story of regular men and women, with a love for God and their fellow humans, overcoming impossible odds to shine the light of freedom in a dark world.

It is a story of Hope.

No matter what the next year brings, I remain unshaken in my belief that America, with God’s help, will overcome and remain the beacon of freedom she has always been.

So today, be thankful. Thank God our story is not over. In fact, it’s just beginning.

 

Washington, D.C.

October 3, 1863

 

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 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 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 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 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 United States the Eighty-eighth.

 

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

 

William H. Seward,

Secretary of State