Erin Carlson Mast
Foundation President & CEO
Abraham Lincoln knew the importance of gratitude and giving thanks during challenging times. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln invited the nation to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November…as a day of Thanksgiving.” President Lincoln did not make the first proclamation of Thanksgiving in the United States, but he did fix it as a national, annual day of giving thanks. “In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity,” Lincoln made the day one of gratitude and unity in the face of terrible loss and disunity. He stated, “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.”
You can view the official copy held at the National Archives here: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/299960
We are grateful for your support. Thanks to you, the Foundation has been able to adapt to many challenges and seize new opportunities to advance Lincoln’s legacy.
What we’re reading in November:
Following our webinar last week with Rae Katherine Eighmey, we’re re-reading Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen: A Culinary View of Lincoln’s Life and Times. In addition to an abundance of primary source references, it contains 55 authentic recipes, including one for Abe Lincoln’s Gingerbread Men.
We’re reading To Address You as My Friend: African Americans' Letters to Abraham Lincoln, edited by Jonathan W. White. Our CEO will be speaking on a panel moderated by Dr. White at the upcoming Lincoln Forum in Gettysburg!
What Abraham Lincoln read in November:
This month in 1863, Abraham Lincoln read the Gettysburg Address. He also read this letter https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/gettysburg-address/ext/trans-gracious.html written the very next day, November 20, 1863, from Edward Everett, the featured speaker at Gettysburg, who was both an accomplished statesmen and orator. While the reaction to Lincoln’s address was tepid at the time, Everett wrote, “I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”
Also this month in 1862, Abraham Lincoln read a collection of editorials by Henry Ward Beecher critiquing the president’s administration.
Thomas “Tad” Lincoln, Abraham and Mary Lincoln’s youngest son, in honor of Worldwide Bereaved Siblings Month. In February 1862, both Willie and Tad Lincoln fell gravely ill with typhoid fever. Tad eventually recovered from the illness, but it claimed the life of his closest brother, Willie. Unfortunately, in addition to grieving the loss of his brother, Tad had to cope without his regular playmates, the Taft children. Mary Lincoln said the Taft boys were too painful a reminder of Willie. Tad’s oldest brother, Robert, was away at Harvard. Tad reportedly began to spend even more time with his father, when he was not traveling with his mother.
Ely Samuel Parker, née Hasanoanda, of the Onödowáʼga (Seneca) tribe, in honor of National Native American Heritage Month. Parker was born on what was then called the Tonawanda Reservation. After studying engineering at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, Parker worked as a civil engineer on government projects. At the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War, he attempted to establish an Iroquois volunteer regiment to fight for the Union or to enlist himself. His efforts were rejected by then-New York Governor Edwin Morgan and the Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, respectively. Seemingly undaunted, he reached out to Ulysses S. Grant, whom he met and formed a friendship with while supervising government engineering projects in Illinois. Grant was in need of good engineers. Parker served with Grant throughout the war, and was present at the Surrender of Appomattox. The draft documents of surrender were written by Lieutenant Colonel Parker. Parker was later named Commissioner of Indian Affairs when Ulysses S. Grant became President years later.
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