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1862 November 19: Thanksgiving Proclamation

November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving was not a national holiday yet in 1862 and had to be proclaimed each year by each state’s governor.  Following is the Wisconsin governor’s 1862 Thanksgiving proclamation, which appeared in the November 19th and 12th issues of The Prescott Journal.

P R O C L A M A T I O N .


TO THE PEOPLE OF WISCONSIN : ̶ Amidst the manifold vicissitudes and calamities that have befallen and surrounded us, threatening the life of our nation, and the lives of so many of its heroic and noble sons, it peculiarly becomes us to turn with grateful hearts to the Supreme Being for the many blessings we have enjoyed, and the afflictions we have been spared.

The horrors and devastations of war, so fiercely raging around us, have not touched the border of our State ;  excepting the brave men who have rallied around our country’s flag in this time of peril, our citizens have been permitted to pursue their peaceful avocations ;  our harvest, though not as abundant as Providence sometimes has pleased to grant us, has yet well compensated the labor bestowed upon it, and well filled our houses and barns ;  the savage tribes upon our border settlements, so threatening at one time to our peace, have been quieted, and kept under surveillance.

The great cause of our nation, it is true, has not triumphed yet over its enemies, but neither has it yet failed ;  the enemy has been driven from the soil of the loyal States ;  our army has been reinforced by hundreds of thousands of brave, patriotic and noble men ready to do battle, and, if necessary, to die for the integrity of the Union ;  our resources and energies are unimpaired ;  we have reason to be hopeful for the future, and therefore thankful for the past.

The loyalty, honor, and patriotism of the state of Wisconsin has been nobly sustained by her brave sons upon every field of battle where they have been called upon to vindicate our national flag.  The just pride which we feel for the bravery of our noble soldiers sho’d fill our hearts with gratitude to Almighty God, who has sustained them in their hour of trial.

For these and other uncounted blessings which the infinite goodness of God has vouchsafed to us during the past year, we should thank Him from the depth of our hearts.  And therefore, and in accordance with a time honored custom, I do hereby appoint THURSDAY, THE 27TH DAY OF NOVEMBER, 1862, AS A DAY OF THANKSGIVING AND REST, and recommend to the people of this State on that day to abstain from secular labor, and to assemble at their usual place of worship to show their grateful hearts to the beneficent Ruler of the Universe, and to pray for a sphedy [sic: speedy] suppression of the rebellion, and for peace to our distracted country.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto
subscribed my name, and caused
[SEAL]                         the Great Seal of State to be af-
fixed this 31st day of October, A.
D. 1862.
Edward Ilsley, Ass’t Sec’y of State.

Winslow Homer’s ‘Thanksgiving in Camp’ appeared in the November 29, 1862, “Harper’s Weekly” (footnote 1)

1.  The University of Wisconsin-River Falls’ Chalmer Davee Library has microfilm copies of Harper’s Weekly for 1858-1865 (UWRF online catalog).

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