This year the last Thursday in November falls on the 29th. If all the States and Territories hold their Thanksgiving on that day, there will be a complete moral and social reunion of the people of America in 1860. Would not this be a good omen for the perpetual political union of the States? May God grant us not only the omen, but the fulfillment is our dearest wish!
OUR THANKSGIVING UNION. --The last Thursday in November--will it not be a great day in our Republic? Seventy years ago the political union of the United States was consummated; in 1789, the thirteen individual States, then forming the American Confederacy, became, by the ratification of the Constitution, over the forming of which Washington himself presided, the United American Nation. The flag of our country now numbers thirty-two stars on its crown of blue, and some half dozen or more additional starlets are shining out of the depths of our wilderness continent, soon to be added to our system of independent and united Government of the People. God save the United States! He has saved, enlarged, blessed, and prospered us beyond any people on this globe. Should we not be thankful, and keep high holiday of gratitude and gladness in acknowledgment of these national blessings ? Seventy years ago, there were only about three millions of people under our flag; now it waves its protecting folds from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and nearly thirty millions of souls are enjoying its blessings. If every State should join in union thanksgiving on the 24th of this month, would it not be a renewed pledge of love and loyalty to the Constitution of the United States, which guarantees peace, prosperity, progress, and perpetuity to our great Republic?
DEAR MADAM: Your admirable suggestions in relation to the simultaneous observance of Thanksgiving Day over the whole Union have, before this, made a deep, and, let us trust, an abiding impression in the most influential and desirable quarters. At the risk of repeating your own ideas, let me express some thoughts which naturally occur to me in this connection. The Union of these States is not consummated by appeals to national loyalty, nor to that national pride expressed in our motto, that union is strength. In short, all theoretical and abstract appeals to the Union are without root, and consequently without fruit. What makes the Union more than a mere word for poets or politicians, what makes it a blessing to be prayed for and preserved at any hazard, is quite on other grounds than pride. An angry man hesitates to get his house on fire, because in every room is one of his own sleeping children. In these United States are scattered broadcast, growing up side by side with the natural productions, or else grafted on the ancient trees, the universal Yankee nation. Peddling his nutmegs and tinware, or presiding with energy and dignity over a seminary for education, inventing the most wonderful machinery for the most common purposes, or infusing into a languid and inert population some of the superfluous breezy activity of his own arid and mountainous districts, everywhere meddling, making, contriving, but everywhere inspiriting and improving, is the Yankee. He is one of the elder children of the household, and, as such, assumes a supe-riority in many matters, but ill borne out by his manners. Be this as it may, wherever he wanders he weaves his web of prosperous industry; the land is better for him. He brings home to his native hills the sweet southern flower, or he stays amidst southern gardens to water and refresh them by a patent irrigator. Family ties increase and are strengthened. The youth of farthest Maine writes love-messages on the magnolia glandiflora leaf to the pale Floridian; the rosy belles of Massachusetts link hands and hearts with the elegant and languid Carolinians. In every chamber there is a child of the house.
Now, next to ties of blood and kindred come language and national observances. We are already spread and mingled over the Union. Each year, by bringing us oftener together, releases us from the estrangement and coolness consequent on distance and political alienations; each year multiplies our ties of relationship and friendship. How can we hate our Mississippi brother-in-law? and who is a better fellow than our wife's uncle from St. Louis ? If Maine itself be a great way off, and almost nowhere, on the contrary, a dozen splendid fellows hail from Kennebec County, and your wife is a down-Easter. Now, when the Autumn sheaves are bound up, when the harvest moon bends smilingly above us, when Nature, having finished her annual work, throws herself wearily down, tossing from her lap abundance, and saying, not in words, but deeds, "Be thankful to the Giver!"—then, in every true American heart, wherever beating, comes the thought of the family gathering, kindred smiles, or tearful memories. Wherever we may be, it is a good and pleasant thing to feel that we look at the same stars, pray to the same God, and hold high festival of gratitude at the same hours throughout the broad land that He has so blessed!
"All the blessings of the fields,
All the stores the garden yields,
All the plenty summer pours,
Autumn's rich, o'erflowing stores,
Peace, prosperity, and health,
Private bliss and public wealth,
Knowledge with its gladdening streams,
Pure religion's holier beams--
Lord, for these our souls shall raise
Grateful vows and solemn praise."
We are most happy to agree with the large majority of the governors of the different States--as shown in their unanimity of action for several past years, and which, we hope, will this year be adopted by all--that the LAST THURSDAY IN NOVEMBER shall be the DAY OF NATIONAL THANKSGIVING for the American people. Let this day, from this time forth, as long as our Banner of Stars floats on the breeze, be the grand THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY of our nation, when the noise and tumult of worldliness may be exchanged for the laugh of happy children, the glad greetings of family reunion, and the humble gratitude of the Christian heart. This truly American Festival falls, this year, on the twenty-fifth day of this month.
Consecrate the day to benevolence of action, by sending good gifts to
the poor, and doing those deeds of charity that will, for one day, make every
American home the place of plenty and rejoicing. These seasons of refreshing
are of inestimable advantage to the popular heart; and, if rightly managed,
will greatly aid and strengthen public harmony of feeling. Let the people
of all the States and Territories sit down together to the "feast of fat
things" and drink, in the sweet draught of joy and gratitude to the Divine
giver of all our blessings, the pledge of renewed love to the Union, and
to each other; and of peace and good-will to all men. Then the last Thursday
in November will soon become the day of AMERICAN THANKSGIVING throughout
"Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength."--NEHEMIAH viii. 10.
Such was the order given to the people of Israel for the celebration of their National and Religious Festival, the "Feast of Weeks." We learn from this that a day of yearly rejoicing and giving of gifts was not only sanctioned but enjoined, by Divine authority, on God's chosen people. Such yearly festival is not positively enjoined on Christians; but that it is both expedient and beneficial may be safely urged, when we find that the practice was approved by our God and Father in heaven. We have, for many past years, urged the advantages of having a day set apart by the civil authorities of each State, which every heart in our wide land may welcome as the time of joy and thankfulness for the American people.
Our Day of Thanksgiving represents, in many striking coincidences, the Jewish Feast of Weeks; only make our day national, and we should then represent the union of joy that was the grand proof of the Divine blessing.
Such social rejoicings tend greatly to expand the generous feelings of our nature, and strengthen the bond of union that binds us brothers and sisters in that true sympathy of American patriotism which makes the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans mingle in our minds as waters that wash the shores of kindred homes, and mark, from east to west, the boundaries of our dominion.
The Creator has so constituted the race of mankind that their minds need a moderate portion of amusement as imperatively as the body at times wants stimulating food. The recreative joyousness, the return, if you please, to the gayeties of childhood, is good for the soul. It sweetens the temper, it brightens hope; it increases our love for each other, and our faith in the goodness of God. There are individuals and nations who, from an unhappy state of things, vice in themselves or in other persons, from poverty, or political oppression, never "drink the sweet, nor eat the fat," but drag on a starved and miserable existence. These are not, physically, true specimens of the human being; want is written on the sunken cheek, and wasting despondency cripples the feeble limbs.
Even thus the mental starvation from all the sweet joys of social intercourse and innocent merry-making, has a wasting and deforming effect upon human character, similar to bad or insufficient diet on the bodily constitution. God intended that all our faculties should, in the right way, be exercised; and neglect of such exercise changes us to incomplete creatures. One has but a lame existence who has lost or neglected to cultivate "the store that nature to her votary yields." Our busy, wealth seeking people require to have days of national festivity, when the fashion and the custom will call them to the feast of love and thanksgiving.
So we agree with the large majority of the governors of different States, that THE LAST THURSDAY IN NOVEMBER should be the DAY OF NATIONAL THANKSGIVING for the American people. Let this day, from this time forth, as long as our Banner of Stars floats on the breeze, be the grand THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY of our nation, when the noise and tumult of worldliness may be exchanged for the laugh of happy children, the glad greetings of family reunion, and the humble gratitude of the Christian heart.
Consecrate the day to benevolence of action, by sending good gifts to the poor, and doing those deeds of charity that will, for one day, make every American home the place of plenty and rejoicing. These seasons of refreshing are of inestimable advantage to the popular heart; and, if rightly managed, will greatly aid and strengthen public harmony of feeling. Let the people of all the States and Territories set down together to the "feast of fat things" and drink, in the sweet draught of joy and gratitude to the Divine giver of all our blessings, the pledge of renewed love to the Union, and to each other; and of peace and good-will to all the world. Then the last Thursday in November will soon become the day of AMERICAN THANKSGIVING throughout the world.
The Day of Thanksgiving would, if observed nationally, soon be celebrated in every part of the world where an American family was settled. If the last Thursday in November could be established as the Day, and known to be the time in each year when, from Maine to New Mexico, and from Plymouth Rock to the Pacific sands, the great American people united in this festival of gladness and gratitude, the whole world might be moved to join in the rejoicing, and bless God for his goodness to the children of men.
Last year, nearly all States and Territories united on that day. This year, we trust, there will be no blank in this number, nor a seat left vacant at the Table of the Nation.
God of the rolling year's returning harvest,
A tribute to thy boundless love we bring,
Without whose gracious gifts the spirit starveth,
And hope falls lifeless from its loftiest wing.
Thy rainbow-pledge, in living colors painted
On the cloud-shadowed arch of summer skies,
Thou hast again redeemed; and, ere we fainted,
The year's life-boon was laid before our eyes.
With grateful hearts we praise thee for it, Father;
Into thy presence with thanksgiving come;
And, as around thine alter we shall gather,
Smile on us from thine everlasting home!
We thank thee for the south wind's breath of gladness,
The genial sunshine of the spring's young hours,
That lifted winter's melancholy sadness
From off the ice-embosomed tomb of flowers.
We thank thee for the morning smile of glory
That spoke thy presence in fresh budding life,
Where silver frost-work made the young year hoary
With jewelled trophies of the cold winter's strife;
That then the flower-enamelled verdure, wooing,
With fragrance, brightness for the waiting lands,
Invited blessings with its glad renewing--
The good seed dropped from labor's willing hands.
We thank thee that, through days of summer blessings,
Nature's glad angels watched the springing shoot,
And, with the sun and dew of their caressings,
Nursed the bright blossoms into golden fruit;
And when the varying hues of autumn beauties
Reflected back the glow of crimson skies,
Thou gavest them as recompense for duties
Most nobly done through toil's self-sacrifice.
All the blest gifts of earth and skies, returning
With each succeeding year, are gifts of thine,
The incense of thy love forever burning
On nature's living, heaven-encircled shrine.
And while, for these tokens of thy favor,
These harvest bounties, heartfelt thanks are given,
May life's pure incense, like sweet smelling savor,
In the world's harvest, wing our souls to heaven.
The readers and friends of the "Lady's Book," that is, a large majority of the people of these United States, agree in our petition. Let us have a national day of Thanksgiving on Thursday, the 19th of November.