By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Mayor Ronnie came in after an intense and challenging season of medical leave. Surgery, a tough aftermath, and lots and lots of time to reflect on Thanksgiving were the reasons he chose the Lincoln Proclamation on Thanksgiving, which became codified in our culture right in the middle of the war that nearly tore us apart. He was sober-yet-joyful, and joked about wanting to do something to make Thanksgiving a holiday that lasts all week, or maybe the weekend. He asked, “What if we did Black Friday on Wednesday?” I wanted to reply, “What if we skipped Black Friday altogether?” I thought better of it, and he understood. He had me read the document, and especially wanted to emphasize the second paragraph with the understanding that the entire proclamation is something that would be good to remember all year long, not just in November. Below is the official wording, and it was originally posted with the inclusion of William Seward, Lincoln’s Secretary of State.
Proclamation 118—Thanksgiving Day, 1864
October 20, 1864
By the President of the United States of America
It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions:
Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.
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 20th day of October, A.D. 1864, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.
By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State.
We didn’t have a great deal of time, but our prayer was fervent and our gratitude fierce that the mayor is on the mend. Then, once again it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner