© 1994-2017, Scott Sperling
“In one of the first Summer after their [the Pilgrims in America] sitting down at
Plymouth, a terrible drought threatened the ruin of all their summer's husbandry.
From about the middle of May to the middle of July, an extreme hot sun beat
upon their fields, without any rain, so that all their corn began to wither and
languish, and some of it was irrecoverably parched up. In this distress they set
apart a day for fasting and prayer, to deprecate the calamity that might bring
them to fasting through famine; in the morning of which day there was no sign of
any rain; but before the evening the sky was overcast with clouds, which went not
away without such easy, gentle, and yet plentiful showers, as revived a great part
of their decayed corn, for a comfortable harvest. The Indians themselves took
notice of this answer given from heaven to the supplications of this devout
people; and one of them said, 'Now I see that the Englishman's God is a good
God; for He hath heard you, and sent you rain, and that without such tempest
and thunder as we use to have with our rain; which after our Powawing for it,
breaks down the corn; whereas your corn stands whole and good still; surely,
your God is a good God.' The harvest which God thus gave to this pious people,
caused them to set apart another day for solemn Thanksgiving to the glorious
Hearer of Prayers!”
-- Cotton Mather (1663-1729)
It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the
overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble
sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and
pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures
and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.
We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to
punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the
awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment
inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national
reformation as a whole people?
We have been the recipients of the choisest bounties of heaven; we have been
preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers,
wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.
But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which
preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we
have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings
were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with
unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of
redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that God 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 as a day of
Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father Who dwelleth in the heavens.
(signed) A. Lincoln
October 3, 1863