November in the modern United States always evokes elections and Thanksgiving. The first chapter of Title 2 of the U.S. Code sets the date for congressional elections on “the Tuesday next after the 1st Monday in November, in every even numbered year.” And, in October 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that established Thanksgiving as a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November while living at President Lincoln’s Cottage. (Franklin Delano Roosevelt moved it to the second to last Thursday in November to extend the holiday shopping season during the Great Depression.)
Voting is the great ritual of democracy, and even when it steers toward spectacle, it makes manifest the will of the people. While this year’s results are not yet final in many places, The American people are insisting on a middle path and eschewing some of the extremism of recent years. Perhaps the populace has found the “better angels of our nature.”
Over the decades, Thanksgiving has become a great ritual of the American family. Friends, found family, and other kin to share a moment of warmth, reflection, and gratitude for the blessings of the year.
For Lincoln, the bounties of peace (beyond the theater of the Civil War), productivity in human endeavors, and the abundance of the Earth were all “the gracious gifts of the Most High God.” The proclamation also asked the American people to remember “all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers.” Even during unparalleled civil strife, Lincoln celebrated what he saw as the good in America without ignoring the devastating losses required to sustain the Union in which he believed so deeply.
This year, as we struggle to sustain the civility and unity of this unique nation, we once again appreciate our democracy as a thing both enduring and fragile, our “last best hope of earth.” Still struggling to deliver on the promise of liberty and equal treatment for all, the United States nevertheless remains a beacon of hope in many corners of the globe.
This year, give thanks for the liberty you enjoy and the brave ideas that inspire the ongoing struggle for freedom.
Thank you for your votes. We are pleased to announce that we were voted ‘Best Museum Off the Mall’ for the fifth time,
and Bourbon & Bluegrass was a runner up for ‘Best Music Festival!”
See the full list of winners here.
Experience a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration as President Lincoln’s Cottage is transformed by award-winning sculptor and found-object artist, Georges Adéagbo. Born in Cotonou, Benin, Georges is known worldwide for his site-specific found-object installations. From January 17-February 15, 2023 he will be exploring themes of freedom and bondage in vignettes throughout the Cottage comprising sculpture, assemblages, and handcrafted signage.
We were thrilled to host the 2022 Jefferson Lecture put on by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Watch the lecture by Dr. Andrew H. Delbanco of Columbia University entitled, “The Question of Reparations: Our Past, Our Present, Our Future,” here.
Support our educational programs, preservation efforts and public events by making a contribution to President Lincoln’s Cottage. Donate online today.