What should the President do if he finds himself in the midst of wrapping up a war that has claimed the lives of many and divided a country; presiding over an Economy that has generally prospered despite the war and finds himself at odds with international partners because of the war?
If you are Abraham Lincoln you issue a proclamation of Thanksgiving. Let me be clear. You issue a proclamation of Thanksgiving not merely for the blessings you enjoy, but you pointedly name and offer homage to the Source of that blessing, “… The Most High God … our beneficent Father …” Whose ” … Almighty hand … works in human history to accomplish … the Divine purposes ….” If you are Abraham Lincoln you gratefully acknowledge God’s gifts while beseeching Him for His mercy for “… our sins … [and] … for our national perversenenss and disobedience ….”
But of course, as is widely recognized by many of today’s Republican intelligentsia, such public displays of religion and Christianity should be returned to the privacy of one’s heart where they speak to no one; they should be avoided because of the damage such expressions of faith do to the Party’s efforts to be about The People’s business; they cannot help but push thinking and rational people away from the Party and towards the other side which has sensibly removed God from every last public place. A Party and a President who does such a thing deserves to be in the minority and will be seen by history as presiding over the destruction of the Party and its principles.
For the rest of Lincoln’s proclamation which, as some historians have discovered, contributed to the healing of a nation; the unifying of a nation and the ascending of a Party to power and prominence, read on. Or you can just go back to your Turkey and dressing and shake your head at those Right Wing Religious nuts and their silly ideas about human dignity and worth, the nature of man, the struggle between Good and Evil and other interesting but irrelevant things …
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful years 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 can not 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 unequaled 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 theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the field of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax 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 theretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, 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, tranquility, and union.In testimony wherof I have herunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
From my family to yours,
A Blessed and Joyous Thanksgiving …