After valiantly fighting sickness, cold and discouragement 101 Pilgrims arrived in the New World. On December 21, 1620 the weary travelers made their way onto shore and desperately started building houses.
Disease visited every house bringing death and sorrow. By the spring, only 53 Pilgrims were still alive, but their faith in the God who guided them to this place of refuge was unwavering.
Squanto, God’s messenger of hope and deliverance, speaking perfect English with knowledge of survival in this harsh climate offered help to the Pilgrims. With Squanto’s assistance, the crops grew tall during the mild summer months.
Fall arrived with an abundance of vegetables along with the Pilgrim’s unwavering trust in their Lord. His strength and grace had brought great blessings during the first year of suffering. The pilgrims along with 90 Wampanoag Indians celebrated the first Thanksgiving in the fall of 1621 in gratitude and praise to the Almighty God.
Almost 250 years later during the horrendous crisis of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving to the Most High God. Acknowledging the sufferings of war, Lincoln unashamedly attributed our nation’s blessings to the Almighty God.
Although most descriptions of Thanksgiving in textbooks or the media completely remove any mention of God, it is impossible to change history. Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation was written in 1863 and remains America’s basis for our national holiday.
Thanksgiving is a day set aside to bring thanksgiving to God who has given us His very life so we can have true life. He is worthy of our gratitude.
With his own hand, Abraham Lincoln wrote this Thanksgiving Proclamation:
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
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 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 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 Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
Although I must find words to explain the meaning of the Proclamation to my children, the deep meaning is impressed on their hearts. The president of our country believed the Almighty God is the source of all our blessings and He deserves our thanks. Lincoln didn’t apologize for this belief or try to find politically correct words to describe His trust in God.
My children need to know the facts of history because it is really His story. The Almighty God wrote the first page and He will continue writing until the story has ended.
Copyright © words and photographs by Jane Carole Stein