While the observance of Thanksgiving has been around for a long time, even dating back to the Puritans of New England (see my blog of November 2015), many may not be aware when it actually became a national holiday.
From my research into the events of American history that happened after my days in the 1700s, I discovered that it was during the administration of President Abraham Lincoln that this practice was solemnized in a proclamation directing all the states to hold this event on the same day each year.
This was not an easy proclamation, of course; it happened in the midst of the Civil War, when the country was bitterly divided (similar to today?). It was intended as a gesture to help heal the nation, show humility, and express thankfulness for the blessings that we did enjoy, despite the tensions and conflicts of that time.
Here are the key words of that proclamation:
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.
Now, one other bit of historical knowledge that you may not know -- this proclamation was actually written by William H. Seward, Lincoln's Secretary of State (in Seward's own handwriting, I understand). Whether Lincoln had a hand in it would be a good project for further research on this Thanksgiving Day 2016.
But regardless of the actual authorship, dear reader, I'd invite you to read the full text of the proclamation, and then take a moment to offer your own thanks, whatever your political persuasion, in these troubled times of the 21st century.
Your humble servant,