The Thanksgiving Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln, 1863

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 unequaled 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 theater of military conflict; while that theater 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 defense, 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 battlefield; 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

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

The Thanksgiving Proclamation of George Washington, 1789

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.

G. WASHINGTON

RMS California

From Dennis Prager:

Okay, riddle fans, here’s a toughie: What’s the difference between California voters and the passengers on the Titanic?

The passengers on the Titanic didn’t vote to hit the iceberg.

Most Americans understand that California is sinking. What is almost incredible is that it has voted to sink.

On Election Day 2010, Californians voted Democrats into every statewide position (one is still undecided). This is the party that single-handedly has brought one of the world’s greatest economies to near-ruin. There may well be historical parallels to what Californians did — but I cannot think of any.

A listener called my radio show two days after the elections to tell me that his business is booming — thanks to Californians. His occupation? He’s a real-estate agent in Phoenix, Ariz.

The middle class has begun to leave California. It is, of course, impossible for most members of such a large group to leave a state; few people leave their family, their friends, their job, and their home except under the most dramatic circumstances. But this fact makes all the more noteworthy the exodus from California that has been taking place.

You have to wonder how many businesses and individuals would leave California if their friends and family could also leave, if they could find a comparable job elsewhere, and if they could sell their homes without losing money. What you don’t have to wonder about is who would stay under those conditions. The state of California would eventually be left largely to those groups who voted Democrat in this election: rich liberals (such as those who live in Nancy Pelosi’s Marin County, in the Bay area, and in West Los Angeles); state and municipal workers (who vote Democrat in as direct a pay-for-vote scheme as a law-based society allows); those who rely on state and city governments for entitlements; and those Latinos who either fall into the last category or who unfortunately identify the Republican party with anti-Latino sentiments because it opposes illegal immigration.

Those who believe in individual responsibility, the free market, and personal liberty are a minority in California. We greet each other as Americans would greet each other meeting in a foreign country.

We watch as one of the greatest places in the world — with its extraordinary natural beauty, almost uniquely beautiful weather, and agricultural abundance — wastes all of this as a result of having become a left-wing experiment. What is particularly saddening is to see a state whose success was achieved because it was a mecca for the adventurous in spirit do everything possible to crush that spirit and drive away those who have it.

There is a silver lining here: clarity. Americans living elsewhere need not elect liberal Democrats to know what will happen if they do. They need only examine California to see what happens to a state governed by the Left (and, for that matter, they can look at Texas to see what happens to a state’s finances when governed by the Right).

The Left and its teachers unions have ruined public education in California. The Left and its public-service unions have saddled the state with $500 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. California’s left-governed cities have set themselves up as “sanctuary cities” for those who have come into America illegally. And the Left passes more and more rules governing the behavior of California citizens. Two examples: San Francisco just banned McDonald’s Happy Meals because they come with a toy and therefore entice children to eat fattening food; and the Democratic legislature has made it illegal for a California employer — even in a retail operation — to ask a male employee who comes to work wearing a dress to wear men’s clothing while at work.

And making the Titanic analogy particularly apt, Californians voted to retain a law which has been described by George Will as one “that preposterously aims to cool the planet by requiring a 30 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2020.”

That law will ensure that California taxes energy use more than any other state. That, in turn, is guaranteed to increase unemployment and the cost of living in the state — one more reason businesses and productive individuals are leaving, but rarely moving into, California.

Environmentalist true believers have free rein in California. They have convinced a majority of the state’s voters to believe the increasingly absurd notion that human carbon-dioxide emission is heating up the planet to temperatures so high that humanity and the earth will suffer cataclysmic consequences.

To return to our Titanic metaphor, the great difference between that ill-fated ship’s crew and California’s crew (its voters and the California Democratic party) is that the Titanic’s crew did everything possible to avoid hitting the iceberg; California’s crew did everything possible to hit it. Perhaps they believe global warming will melt it before they get there.

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Shoving-the-Country-Leftward Gridlock

From Thomas Sowell:

Whenever the party that controls the White House does not also control Capitol Hill, political pundits worry that there will be “gridlock” in Washington, so that the government cannot solve the nation’s problems.

Almost never is that fear based on what actually happens when there is divided government, compared to what happens when one party has a monopoly of both legislative and executive branches.

The last time the federal government had a budget surplus, instead of its usual deficits, there was divided government. That was when the Republicans controlled the House of Representatives, where all spending bills originate, and Bill Clinton was in the White House. The media called it “the Clinton surplus.”

By the same token, some of the worst laws ever passed were passed when one party had overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress, as well as being led by their own president of the United States. Obamacare is a product of the kind of arrogance that so much power breeds.

It was the same story back in the famous “first hundred days” of the New Deal in 1933. The National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 clamped down on the American economy the kind of pervasive government control seldom seen outside totalitarian countries.

It was the Obamacare of its time, but covering industries right down to local dry cleaners. One man was sent to jail for charging less than the government-specified price for pressing a suit of clothes. This typified the mindset of the New Deal.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court eventually declared the National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional. But, before that happened, the N.I.R.A. probably did more to prevent the economy from recovering from the Great Depression than any other law or policy. Even liberal icon John Maynard Keynes said at the time that the N.I.R.A. “probably impedes recovery.”

You cannot tell what effect a law or policy will have by what politicians call it, whether they label it a “recovery” program or a “stimulus” program.

Those who fear gridlock in Washington today implicitly assume that government actions are needed to “solve” the economy’s “problems.” That assumption has been so pervasive over the past 80 years that many people fail to realize that the republic existed for nearly twice that long before the federal government intervened to get the economy out of a recession or depression.

During all that time, no depression ever lasted even half as long as the Great Depression of the 1930s, when first President Herbert Hoover and then President Franklin Roosevelt intervened.

For most of the history of this country, there was no Federal Reserve System, which was established in 1914 to prevent bank failures and the bad effects of large expansions or contractions of the supply of money and credit. But bank failures in the 1930s exceeded anything ever seen before the Fed was established. So did the contraction of money and credit during the Great Depression.

The seductive notion that some Big Daddy in Washington can solve our problems for us — whether healing the sick, preventing poverty, or “growing the economy” — is encouraged by politicians for obvious reasons, and the media echoes the idea.

Both in Washington and in the media, there is virtually zero interest in comparing what actually happens when the federal government intervenes in the economy and when it does not.

More than a century and a half of ignoring downturns in the economy never produced a depression as deep or as long as the 1930s depression, with its many federal interventions, first under Hoover and then under Roosevelt.

The unemployment rate was 6.3 percent when the first big intervention took place, during the Hoover administration. It later peaked at 25 percent, but its fluctuations were always in double digits throughout the 1930s, as FDR tried one thing after another. As late as the spring of 1939, nearly a decade after the stock market crash of 1929, unemployment hit 20 percent again.

It is not a matter of faith that a market economy can recover on its own. It is a matter of faith that politicians speed recovery. But there is no way that Barack Obama is going to stop intervening in the economy unless he gets stopped. Only gridlock can do that.

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