On this Thanksgiving Day, I would like to share with you the words of President Abraham Lincoln that most earnestly and reverently called upon a divided union of the states to be healed. This call came while proclaiming the last Thursday of each November as our national day for giving thanks to God for all blessings. It is right that we do this today, as our nation finds itself once again politically divided as it was in Lincoln’s time. This divide is best evidenced by a tempestuous presidential impeachment process, mounting attacks on our democratic institutions such as the Electoral College and judiciary, and changing cultural values that no longer align with our Judeo-Christian founding.
President Lincoln embodied a commitment to democratic principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence, and to the Constitution in its role as a bulwark for the defense of individual rights. Throughout his public career, Lincoln defended the Declaration and Constitution as the only means by which the nation could be reunited. Lincoln was also clear in his vision about the nature and scope of government in our lives. He once said: “The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but can not do at all, or can not so well do, for themselves – in their separate, and individual capacities.” Lincoln’s vision was centered on what people “need” to have done, and not the endless supply of “wants” that many politicians seem so ready to offer voters. Fortunately, we have a Constitution that serves as the basis for defining the difference between the two.
Today, as we all seek common ground with our friends and neighbors, I would ask that you consider Lincoln’s proclamation below as an invitation to recommit yourself to the Constitution. This commitment includes fulfilling a citizen’s responsibility to obtain a credible understanding about what the Constitution is, the role it defines for the federal and state governments, and the balance it creates between individual freedom and equality. Unless more Americans develop this understanding, we as a nation will continue to be a country at growing risk of internal conflict.
Lincoln once reminded us that a “house
divided against itself cannot stand.” We need to heed his admonition before
it is too late. Mr. Lincoln’s proclamation to follow, and Happy Thanksgiving to
Eric A. BeckEditor-In-ChiefFree Nation Media LLCGreenville, South Carolina
A Proclamation By the President of the United States of America.Washington, D.C. 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 even the heart which is habitually
insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequalled 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 United States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln