The Proclamation of Thanksgiving 10


Today in the United States, we celebrate the National Day of Thanksgiving. A lot of Americans will tell you that the First Thanksgiving occurred in 1621 with the Pilgrims and Indians in Plymouth, MA. Though some states were celebrating, it would take over two centuries before Thanksgiving would become a national holiday.

During his first term as President, Abraham Lincoln would attempt to make this happen. In 1861, he had federal departments close on the last Thursday of November. Two years later, a 74 year old writer by the name of Sarah Josepha Hale wrote a letter to Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. She had attempted this since 1846 and wrote letters to Lincoln’s predecessors, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, but none were persuaded. President Lincoln saw it differently as he thought it was a great idea, especially that the country was in the middle of Civil War. Lincoln’s Secretary of State would write a proclamation to make Thanksgiving the third national holiday in the United States, after Washington’s birthday and Independence Day.

Here is the proclamation:

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

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. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. 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. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

United States Coins of 1863

In 1863, the only mint branches that were open were in Philadelphia and San Francisco. With the southern states seceded from the Union, the branch offices of Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans were closed. US coins came in the following denominations: cent, three cent, half dime, dime, quarter, half dollar and dollar. There were also gold dollars, quarter eagles ($2.50 gold), half eagles ($5 gold), eagles ($10 gold) and double eagles ($20 gold). Back then, gold coins as well as silver coins were in circulation.

The Indian Cent was in its fifth year and was thicker than the pennies that we see today. In 1863, the cents were composed of 88% copper and 12% nickel. With copper and nickel need for the war effort, the nickel would be removed from the cent in 1864 and the copper content was reduced.

The Three Cent Silver had been around since 1851. With people hoarding silver because of the war, the mint would introduce the Two Cent Piece in 1864 and Three Cent Nickel in 1865. As a result, only a few thousand Three Cent Silver coins would be minted in Philadelphia each year until 1873.

Half Dimes were also silver coins and used as a 5 cent coin from 1792 to 1873. Just like the Three Cent Silver, Half Dimes would be hoarded which resulted in the mint producing Nickels starting in 1866.

Silver Half Dimes through Silver Dollars in 1863 were all called Seated Liberty or Liberty Seated Coins, depending on who you talk to. These were the longest lasting coins of the 19th century. Half Dimes and Dollars lasted till 1873, but the dimes, quarters and half dollars would stick around until 1892.

I Wish Everyone Out There a Very Happy Thanksgiving!


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10 thoughts on “The Proclamation of Thanksgiving

    • Kevin Post author

      Hey Bobbi, thanks for the comment! I had Thanksgiving at a church yesterday and the preacher asked when Thanksgiving became a national holiday and I actually remembered 1863. When I got home I thought it would make a good article. I don’t think a lot of people realize that only New England celebrated it before the Civil War.

  • EJ

    Hi
    Nice article about Thanksgiving and the history of it, as a holiday most of us don’t really understand where it came from. I am really interested in the coins. As a youngster, I had a small collection of Buffalo nickels and some gold half and double eagles. I am wondering how rare the 3 cent silver piece is and what is its worth?
    Thanks EJ

    • Kevin Post author

      Thanks for the comment EJ! That’s awesome that you had some half and double eagles. I just got my first quarter eagle a few months ago. In terms of the 3 cent silver, I think more were made before the Civil War than during or after. Especially after 1865 when the 3 cent nickel came out. I hope you have a later date as they were rarer. Good luck! 

  • Jim

    I was a childhood coin collector. But, one day, I sold it all…with the exception of two Lincoln pennies I kept: A 1943 S steel, a 1955 double die and a 1909 S VDB…in average (not mint) condition.

    Do you know what they are worth to today’s coin collectors? I am curious to know whether to keep them for another 20 years or so before I try to sell them.

    Jim

    • Kevin Post author

      Wow Jim! You have the holy grail of Lincoln Cents! All you need is the 1914-D and you would have the 3 most sought Lincolns. The best I have is an uncirculated 1931-S which was the 2nd rarest Lincoln Cent, but since many people hoarded them, a lot remained uncirculated so the value only goes around $200. Ok, let’s check the Red Book.

      First the 1943-S. Unfortunately, a lot of people think the 1943 Steel Cents are rare, but this is not true. San Francisco minted over 191 million steel cents that year. If you had a Mint State or Uncirulated one, it would start at $6 on the low end and Mint State 65 would be around $20. A circulated one would only be worth between $0.50 and $1.00. 

      The 1909-S VDB is the rarest of the Lincoln Cents, mainly because San Francisco had minted some 1909-S Indian Cents. Then when they started minting the Lincoln Cent with the designer’s initials in the reverse, people didn’t like them because they thought he was advertising, especially using his middle initial which I don’t think was done before. One of these pennies is worth between $600 and $1,000 in circulation. Low end uncirculated ones start at $1,300.

      A 1955 Double Die is the most popular and sought after Lincoln double die coin. According to the Red Book, one in Very Fine condition is worth around $1,600 and Almost Uncirculated condition is around $2,000.

      You lucky dog! You’re the first person who has commented here that has mentioned having those two gems. Congratulations and thanks for the comment!

  • Advent Voice

    Thank you for the thanksgiving wishes and your viewers return the sentiments.
    Coins are very important and I can tell you have made a staple of the selling of coins very profitable.
    It is a niche worth passing on to others and I can only pass on wishes of success and limited obstacles. Great about me page as well. Nothing better than knowing someone has made a profession of what they love for over 35 years.
    I suppose if I save enough money I will have to ask you to send me a few orders.

    • Kevin Post author

      Thanks for the comment! Appreciate you checking out my About Me page. I started collecting in my teens. I’ll have to change it to over 40 years soon. I’ve tried not to sell my coins except when I had no choice. I hope to someday come to the point where I can collect coins for myself and sell certain coins to other. Not there yet.

      Come back often and let me know if you do decide to collect.