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Sarah Josepha Hale is responsible for the national holiday "Thanksgiving" that we'll be celebrating in a couple of days. Go look her up; then you'll know who wrote "Mary Had A Little Lamb" after wondering about it all these years. Anyway, she wrote five presidents about a national day of thanksgiving.

I suppose Abraham Lincoln thought the idea was safe from criticism in the American north after victories at Gettysburg, Vicksburg and the capture of Chattanooga. William Seward, President Lincoln's Secretary of State, wrote the proclamation for the holiday and Lincoln signed it. It was issued on October third of 1863 and things were going well for the United States. Well, the proclamation said so while acknowledging that there was a costly civil war going on. Go look it up; the writing is too florid to be Lincoln's and it's full of the Almighty, beneficent Fathers and Divine Purposes. I suppose the President decided to let Seward be Seward and not edit the thing.

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Well, in between the issuance of the proclamation and the actual event, a couple of things happened.

For one, the Union army got its ass handed to it at Chickamauga and came close to starving while under siege in the city of Chattanooga.

Sick almost-to-death (well, not quite yet; he was feeling poorly and it was on the trainride back to Washington that his illness, probably smallpox, hit him hard) President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address one week before Thanksgiving Day. There is no question but that Lincoln had been wrestling with what the war really meant. But I wonder if he knew what was going to happen during the next week. Ulysses Grant had prepared a counterattack in and around Chattanooga. What would happen there would hit the newspapers just in time for the day of thanksgiving.

As it turns out, the counterattack was extremely successful. My great-times-two grandfather was one of the fellows who got it into their heads to just take Missionary Ridge rather than make a demonstration attack against it.

So when Thanksgiving Day actually happened, the Union armies were successful left, right and center. And yet, and yet...the war would go on.

So this Thansgiving, I know the war will go on in Afganistan and Pakistan and God knows where else. But there's no war for the United States in Syria. It sure looks like there won't be a war for the United States against Iran any time soon. And after stumbles and bumbles and underfunded websites going bonk, even John Boehner can get healthcare despite his efforts to screw it up both politically and personally.

Originally posted to algebrateacher on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 05:03 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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