— By Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America
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 are blessed whose God is the Lord.
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 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 has seemed to me fit and proper that God 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 as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father Who dwelleth in the heavens.
Signed… A. Lincoln – October 3, 1863
— By J. E. Rankin
We come, O Lord, these Autumn days,
With hymns of gratitude and praise.
Harvest of gold the plains adorn,
Rich fruits roll forth from Plenty’s horn;
Thou givest treasures from the rocks;
The little hills are clothed with flocks;
The seas are with their burden white,
And new Thy mercies day and night.
For changing seasons as they go,
For Autumn leaf, for Winter’s snow,
For the green verdure of the Spring,
For life in plant and life on wing,
For Summer with its ripening heat,
For hopes the rounded years complete,
For morn and noon, for night and day,
For light that marks our heavenward way;
For all the blessings of Thy hand,
For freedom in fair freedom’s land,
Pursuits of thrift that bring us wealth,
For schools and churches, peace and health,
For commerce, yielding up her stores,
Brought for man’s use from distant shores;
For countless gifts, O Lord, we raise
Our hymns of gratitude and praise.
Thou settest man in families,
And all his wants the earth supplies;
Of children, be they far or near,
Of children’s children gathered here,
We thank Thee for Thy gracious care,
And lift for them the secret prayer,
As clustered round each social board
We eat and drink, and praise the Lord.