November 15, 2011 | Posted in Thanksgiving | By

Abraham Lincoln head on shoulders photo portrait
Yesterday I talked about Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation issued in October of 1863. You can read a transcript of the proclamation here. Today I want to talk about what we can learn from the proclamation.

Abraham Lincoln was a Firm Believer in God

Lincoln’s proclamation opens with this statement: “The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings…which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.” He goes on to say “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.”

Altogether, Lincoln refers to God in one manner or another about half a dozen times in his short, 520-word proclamation. Anyone who believes Lincoln was somehow an atheist or otherwise not a believer in God should read this proclamation. These words seem pretty indisputable to me.

Abraham Lincoln Was Not a Deist

The proclamation makes it clear that Lincoln not only believed in God, but believed that God was active in the world. In other words, he was not a deist who believed God was nothing more than a creator. He believed God went so far as to bestow blessings on people, show mercy, and punish sinfulness.

This is made clear by a number of statements from Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, including the line, “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.”

He also encouraged Americans to pray for the people who had lost loved ones as a result of the war.

We Should be Grateful for Our Blessings

Lincoln made it very clear that, given America’s blessings came from no one other than God Himself, we should be very grateful. He encouraged all Americans everywhere to pray and give thanks to God for the many blessings America enjoyed in spite of the Civil War.


As Thanksgiving approaches next week, I hope we can follow in the footsteps of Lincoln, and remember how much we have to be grateful for. Our economy is struggling, and our military is engaged in armed conflict overseas, but we still have much we can thank God for, if we just take time to think about all the blessings He shows us every day.

I pray the coming weeks are truly blessed for you and your Family.

Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.