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Proclamation by the 16th President of the United States

“A Proclamation.

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord. And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

In witness 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 thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward, Secretary of State.”

Abraham Lincoln

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Proclamation Source: Abraham Lincoln. March 30, 1863, in a Proclamation of a National Day of Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer. James D. Richardson (U.S. Representative from Tennessee), ed., “A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1897”, 10 Vols. (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, published by Authority of Congress, 1897, 1899; Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1789-1902, 11 volumes, 1907, 1910), Vol. VI, pp. 164-165. Roy Basler, ed., “Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln” (Rutgers University Press, 1953), Vol. 6, p. 179. Benjamin Weiss, “God in American History: A Documentation of America’s Religious Heritage” (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1966), p. 92. Willard Cantelon, “Money Master of the World” (Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1976), p. 120. Gary DeMar, “God and Government, A Biblical and Historical Study” (Atlanta, GA: American Vision Press, 1984), p. 128-129. David Barton, “The Myth of Separation” (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilder Press, 1991), p. 259. “‘Our Christian Heritage,’ Letter from Plymouth Rock” (Marlborough, NH: The Plymouth Rock Foundation), p. 6. D.P. Diffine, Ph. D., “One Nation Under God - How Close a Separation?” (Searcy, Arkansas: Harding University, Belden Center for Private Enterprise Education, 6th edition, 1992), pp. 14-15. Gary DeMar, “America’s Christian History: The Untold Story” (Atlanta, GA: American Vision Publishers, Inc., 1993), pp. 53, 99. William J. Federer, “America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations” (FAME Publishing, Inc., 820 S. MacArthur Blvd., Suite 105-220, Coppell, TX 75019-4214, 1994) Abraham Lincoln, p. 383.

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