A Day of Thanksgiving

Proclamation of Thanksgiving from Ohio governor Salmon Chase, 1858. From Proclamation for Thanksgiving, issued by the Continental Congress, courtesy of the State Library of Ohio Rare Books Collection.
Proclamation of Thanksgiving from Ohio governor Salmon Chase, 1858. From Proclamation for Thanksgiving, issued by the Continental Congress, courtesy of the State Library of Ohio Rare Books Collection.

By the time you read this post, Thanksgiving in the United States will have passed.  The day will be a memory, and the day’s meal may be living on your plate in the form of leftovers.  Still, it bears remembering that, while we in the U.S. celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November, this need not always be the case.  In fact, days of Thanksgiving can happen at any time and for any reason.  The only criteria: that we are grateful.

In Proclamations for Thanksgiving, we can see statements from political luminaries–presidents, governors, and the like–giving thanks for such events as the end of wars, or simply for continued peace.  The preface of Proclamations tells us the following:

The 1858 Thanksgiving proclamation issued by Governor Chase can be found on page 163.
The 1858 Thanksgiving proclamation issued by Governor Chase can be found on page 163.

There is an official document, issued by Executive Authority… which finds no place in our public records, and… is soon lost to the public generally, with the fleeting items of the current news.  It contains no imperative order, and its observance is enforced by neither rewards nor penalties; but like a Herald of Peace, it invites us to lay aside the cares of life, and… to acknowledge with becoming reverence, and in a manner approved by our consciences, our obligations for the many blessings of life.

Published prior to the designation of the fourth Thursday of November as being a day of Thanksgiving, this book includes Thanksgiving proclamations given at all times of the year and for a variety of reasons.  It invites the reader to consider that days of thanks can come at any time, for any reason, big or small.  True, the world might not celebrate with us, but that doesn’t preclude us from proclaiming our own days of thanks.

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Thank you to Shannon Kupfer, Digital/Tangible Media Cataloger at the State Library of Ohio, for this week’s post!

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