President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

Lincoln Thanksgiving Day

God’s divine appointments are always amazing to me. In my normal daily chronological reading through the Old Testament this morning, I ended up reading 1 Chronicles 16, a chapter just about giving thanks, which contains David’s thanksgiving song to the Lord. It was a divine appointment at least for me, and a great reminder that today we give thanks TO our creator and Lord. Not necessarily for what we have physically, but for what God has done in our lives, and yes for the blessings he has abundantly supplied.

Thanksgiving should not be an “American” thing, and when this day was first made into a holiday, Lincoln said as much as well. This is the day for the world to give thanks to God, and in his own words, I give you:

President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America’s national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders similar to this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on September 28, 1863, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” She explained, “You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.”

Prior to this, each state scheduled its own Thanksgiving holiday at different times, mainly in New England and other Northern states. President Lincoln responded to Mrs. Hale’s request immediately, unlike several of his predecessors, who ignored her petitions altogether. In her letter to Lincoln she mentioned that she had been advocating a national thanksgiving date for 15 years as the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book.

he document below sets apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” 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. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary how he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

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 consiousness 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

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

… and so it is today. We celebrate with food and family today, and give thanks to our creator and savior that he is truly Lord over all.


  1. Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler.
  2. Abraham Lincoln Online: Writings and Speeches

The Humble Prayer of a Ugandan Girl

Letter From our Sponsor Child in Uganda

Letter From our Sponsor Child in Uganda

I can’t believe it’s almost Thanksgiving again. I haven’t had a chance to post here nearly as much as I would like over the last few weeks, but that’s been the story of my days lately. Every time I get so busy running from meeting to meeting something bumps into me with a little perspective, like this letter above from our girl in Uganda.

I love reading these letters from Joanita, our sponsor child in Uganda. They mean a lot to both of us, even more so since I have had a chance to meet her a few times and know where she lives and where she goes to school. Every time we get a letter from her she makes sure to let me know that she is praying for us, and that blows my mind. I can’t really think too deeply about this because after a while I’m just dumbfounded about what we complain about, and even more what things take up our time here in this land of plenty.

When I read her letters it makes me stop and think about who is praying for me, and who am I praying for? Is it a trivial passing glance or have I made time today for things that are eternally important, not just the mundane task driven daily routine that is so hard to break out of at times. Even though she will probably never know how much I appreciate her prayers just knowing that a little girl 10,000 miles away who sleeps on a dirt floor is praying for me humbles my day.

Happy Thanksgiving 2011 from the Farm

Happy Thanksgiving 2011 from down over here on the farm. I love the fall in the south, it is a beautiful 70*F sunny day outside (although it is supposed to be something like 24*F in a few days), and Thanksgiving pretty much always kicks off Iron Bowl weekend. If you are perhaps one of the few unfamiliar with the Iron Bowl, check out the film by ESPN called Roll Tide War Eagle. Can’t begin to list how many things I am thankful for at this point, but for one, we have Deborah at home and feeling relatively well, that trumps most other things on my list right now.

I am extremely thankful for my family, and being able to eat dinner over at my parents house today will be awesome. I took the photo of my mom and dad above this morning, but the normal traditional work is the first shot. Every year on Thanksgiving week we (generally that means my dad) mow the entire pasture for the winter.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and War Eagle!

Heat of Apalachicola and St George Island :: Friday Feet

Today we had a very last minute invite to St George Island, right across the bay from Apalachicola. This had to be our fastest trip ever down to the coast, no wait, second fastest… we once drove down to our Orange Beach marina for Thanksgiving in 2007 only to find out their wifi was not working and then made the 4-5 hour drive right back. We were there for about 60 minutes. This time we were down there for about 20 hours. It was plenty long enough to bake in the blasting heat, read another chapter in the Bonhoeffer biography (which is incredible), take a few pics for today’s Friday Feet, and make it back home.

Hard to believe how long it has been since Deb and I have been down to the gulf. We use to go down there about once a month but it’s been almost two years since we made the drive down there. I was instantly reminded why we use to go down there in December through February. The 100% humidity and 100*F weather going on right now was enough to make you run for cover.

Photo Shoot and Thoughts of Thanksgiving 2009

DSC_6436-edit2-levi

Thanksgiving is now long gone (and so is the food I hope) but I finally got around to editing a few impromptu photo shoots that happened over that weekend.  We often move from holiday to holiday and are “thankful” when it is time to be thankful, and “merry” when it is time for Christmas, but the spirit should remain with us year round.  This past Thanksgiving weekend was a little different in our house this year.  We were home and able to share the meal with our extended family and had a wonderful time.  I had a photo shoot with my pastor’s family, my car died, and then on Thanksgiving day took a few shots of my Nieces and Nephews (I have several).

Christmas is going to be a bit strange for us as well as we make a move up to Virginia just before Christmas to continue our class work.  It will be kind of weird being in a new place during the holiday but Deborah and I are looking forward to making new friends and worshiping with new Believers.  Below are just a few shots from the Thanksgiving weekend (I am going to try to upload a few more to my flickr account).  The last shot at the bottom is my Niece Martha and my Nephew Levi, quite a pair.

DSC_6246-edit-ben

DSC_6390-edit-josh

Thanksgiving Photo Shoot for a Christmas Card

Dale and Larry Fillmer

Dale and Larry Fillmer

Thanksgiving weekend is just about to wind down and move into the 25 day rush to Christmas.  It was a nice weekend with some nice rain showers and lots of food.  I just finished watching one of the more lousy versions of the Iron bowl (if you are an Auburn fan) over the last few years and it ended in an Alabama romp.  Alabama played well and will have a full plate next week coming up against Florida in the SEC Championship game.

Early on Thursday I did a quick photo shoot for Dale and Larry Fillmer (that would be mom and dad) for their Christmas card.  Here are a few from the shoot that were my favorites (don’t think any of these made it on the card, but these were the ones I liked).  Looking forward to the new series that starts tomorrow at cumc called Simple Christmas.  Something we can all take to heart, focusing on what is important at Christmas and why we celebrate the holiday in the first place, can’t wait.  If you are in the Auburn area, come by at 9am or 11am and see what it’s all about.

I am really looking forward to this Christmas season and all the possibilities of the upcoming new year.  I always look forward to the changing of the new year.  It always seems to bring change and a new time of growth for my family, as it is with many, and I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for us in 2009.  Celebrating a Simple Christmas is going to be a great place for my family to transition into the new year.

Giving Up Thanksgiving For Christmas This Year?

Deborah fixing turkey

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.  I am sitting here about to turn on the Macy’s Day Parade and for some reason thinking about Christmas and New Years Day and beyond.  For some reason this year it seems like we have skipped over Thanksgiving and are bolting ourselves into the Christmas day time. Retail stores are probably trying desperately to bring in people early this year, and around town I started seeing Christmas displays and hearing Christmas music over the intercom before Halloween was over.

I don’t remember Christmas coming right after Halloween last year but it seems to have creeped its way farther up the calendar this year. I like Thanksgiving and would like to take one of these at a time before we go on to the next one, but I realize that Thanksgiving is not a real big commercial season and no one gives presents from Best Buy at Thanksgiving (thank goodness). If there is no commercial purpose for the holiday, it seems that most businesses, TV and radio will just skip over day now. I hate rushing through life. We rush here and there all day every day and I would like to celebrate one holiday at a time. Deb and I are not real big fans of holiday days anyway, it always disrupts the routines of everything, but I would like to enjoy one before going on to the next.

So, today being Thanksgiving I figured I would do the typical what I am thankful for post. A few things I am thankful for.

  • My Savior
  • My wife, family, friends
  • that I have food to eat, a place to live
  • I am able to live in a free country
  • clean water and shoes

Those are nothing earth shattering of course, but still something I am continually aware of and thankful for.  Early this week on Tuesday a friend of mine, Josh, did a great explanation of why we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, why it is important, and what was going on at the time.  It was during the Passover Celebration as explained in Exodus, but when Jesus and the disciples celebrated passover supper, Jesus spoke and said:

Matthew 26: 26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Jesus “gave thanks” during this celebration dinner, and today we give thanks as well. I do like to remember that this is generally an American holiday (see Thanksgiving is a U.S. Holiday, Think Global) and we should not forget that this is not a world-wide holiday. Last year, Deb and I spent the holiday on our boat (sort of) for a few hours and ended up coming back home after their wifi went down (see here). It’s a year later and we are going to spend the day here at the house with my father-in-law David, (see Deb’s mom’s blog) and watching some football.

Thanksgiving Week on the Farm with Dad and John Deere

Larry Fillmer on the Tractor

It’s Thanksgiving week and that means that Auburn University classes are over for the holiday break.  For the last few years this week has been the time which my dad, Larry Fillmer, takes a few days off from work and gets on the John Deere tractor and cuts the pasture grass for the winter.  There is around 20-30 acres of actual grass to cut, so it usually takes most of the week.  Today was a bit cloudy and cold, but, it’s November.  I think there are a few people in his office that read my blog so I thought I would let you know what Larry Fillmer looks like when he is not in a suit and tie on campus.

I would love to hear from those who know Larry but don’t normally comment on my blog.  Can I have a caption for the photo above??

Auburn United Methodist Church Gives Out 500 Thanksgiving Dinners

If there is one place where the Church should be involved and actively participating is helping those who need help.  I had a chance to visit the operation area of the Auburn United Methodist Church food bank on Thursday and they were preparing to give away 500 turkey dinners, 800 bags of fresh corn, milk, eggs, potatoes, and everything else you see in the boxes in the photos below.

I snapped this one shot with my phone on my way out, it was really neat to see this many meals lined up, but also a reminder of how many people were going to be here on Friday to pick up these boxes.  If you ever want to help out AUMC does this every Friday, I am sure they would love to have help boxing things up even when it is not Thanksgiving.