Abraham Lincoln and the presidential expression of American values.
Did Abraham Lincoln just defeat Barack Obama?
Sure, there was that economy thing and ObamaCare and, well… the usual long list that began spicing up Republican poll numbers and the final results on election day.
But the approach of the Thanksgiving holiday reminds that maybe, just maybe, the real answer to the thorough repudiation of the Obama White House can be found in, of all things, two very different presidential proclamations for Thanksgiving.
The first, which was literally the first, was signed by Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863.
The second, by now a standard presidential duty of Lincoln’s successors, was issued by Barack Obama on November 23, 2009.
The difference? The very notable difference that has been in one form or another telegraphed to the American people by the Obama White House.
God and His connection to American values had suddenly gone missing from a Thanksgiving Proclamation by a President of the United States.
The story of Lincoln’s proclamation is fairly well known. Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor of the day (famous, among other things, for writing the words to the nursery rhyme Mary Had a Little Lamb) noticed that in parts of America — New England most prominently — Thanksgiving had been celebrated with something approaching regularity since the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620. In other sections — the South, for one — the holiday was barely known if at all.
Hale was nothing if not a believer in God and the American Union, as well as being a fierce opponent of slavery. She had made it her business to advocate and get action on those symbols that celebrated America and what today is known as American exceptionalism. She is said to have raised $30,000 for the construction of the monument celebrating the battle of Bunker Hill — and when funds were still needed went to work getting readers to donate to the cause. They did — and the monument celebrating the first major battle of the American Revolution still stands in Boston. She was one of the first to urge the preservation of George Washington’s legendary home at Mount Vernon, Virginia.
Since 1846 Hale had written editorials calling for a uniform national celebration of Thanksgiving, writing four presidents and dozens and dozens of congressmen to push her cause. Now, as America was embroiled in a ferocious Civil War where the concept of “Union” was very much in play, Hale tried again with a fifth president, Abraham Lincoln.
“Sir,” briskly began this formidable editor, going on to make the case that Thanksgiving “now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.”
Lincoln responded with a Thanksgiving Proclamation on October 3, 1863. He was only a month from dedicating a cemetery to commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg, deep into both the conduct of the war while soon to deliver one of history’s most famous speeches in which he would say “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Abraham Lincoln understood the importance of Hale’s message.
Secretary of State William Seward, the one-time Lincoln rival now a devoted friend and political soul mate, wrote the draft for the proclamation. Whether Lincoln tinkered with it is unknown. Read it, approve of it — and most importantly affix his signature to it — he did.
Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, fixing the last Thursday of November as the official holiday, is to this day a sterling illustration of the relationship Lincoln and millions of Americans of his time — and ours — saw between God, religious faith, and the existence of America itself.
References to God or the Almighty and the relationship between the Creator and the idea that is America begin in the brief Lincoln Thanksgiving Proclamation’s second sentence and continue throughout.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online