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Special Holiday Extra: a day of “sincere and humble thanks”…

from xkcd (where, while Randall deals with illness in his family, Jeffrey Rowland [and others] have stepped in)

From Scenarios and Strategy:

On October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation naming Thursday, November 26, 1789 as an official holiday of “sincere and humble thanks,” and the United States celebrated its first Thanksgiving under its new Constitution.

click image to see enlargement at source; click here to see original manuscript at the National Archives

The holiday became traditional, at least in New England, but was celebrated each year at different times in the late Fall.  Then in September of 1863, a magazine editor named Sarah Josepha Hale wrote President Abraham Lincoln, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” Lincoln responded:

Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day

October 3, 1863

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 the heart…

click image to see enlargement at the National Archive; click here for transcription

(According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln’s secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. Indeed, on October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles noted in his diary that he had complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.)

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