ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES
Early Chicago, 1833–1871
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
PROCLAMATION REGARDING DAY OF THANKSGIVING
August 4, 1863
On July 4, 1863, over 29,000 Rebel troops surrendered to General Grant at Vicksburg, Mississippi. This gave the Union control of the Mississippi River and split the Confederacy. On the same day General Lee was retreating from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where his offensive had cost him 28,000 casualties to the Union's 23,000. Despite the Union victory at Gettysburg, President Lincoln was despondent over General Meade's failure to pursue Lee boldly. Public opinion was swaying against the President and over July 13-16, major draft riots occurred in New York City in resistance to the Union Conscription Act. Lincoln took time out on the fifteenth to issue a Proclamation of Thanksgiving setting aside August 6, as the day of observance. The Proclamation expressed thanks to Almighty God for "victories on land and on the sea so signal and so effective as to furnish reasonable grounds for augmented confidence that the Union of these States will be maintained, the constitution preserved, and their peace and prosperity permanently restored."
Points to Consider
Why did President Lincoln issue a Proclamation of Thanksgiving on July 15, 1863?
Of what significance were the battles of Vicksburg and Gettysburg?
What day of the week was August 6, 1863?
Who or what did President Lincoln and Mayor Sherman believe was on the side of the Union?