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Arthur I. Cyr: Thanksgiving and Lincoln’s legacy

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26.11.2019

Thanksgiving means real, not ideological, inclusiveness. President Abraham Lincoln profoundly demonstrated this fundamental point. On Oct. 3, 1863, the White House issued the Thanksgiving Proclamation, declaring the last Thursday of November to be a “day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” He also humbly requested “the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore … peace, harmony, and Union.”

Earlier, Lincoln had ordered government offices closed on Nov. 28, 1861, for a day of thanksgiving. Up until the 1863 proclamation, individual states had celebrated days of giving thanks. Sarah Joseph Hale, editor of the influential Godey’s Lady’s Book, had written to Lincoln in late September of that year pressing for a national day of thanks, a goal she pursued for many years without success.

According to Lincoln’s administrative aide John Nicolay, Secretary of State William H. Seward........

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