As we have celebrated and commemorated the sesquicentennial anniversaries of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address this year, let us now note and remember Abraham Lincoln’s other 1863 proclamation, his Proclamation of Thanksgiving.
While there had been earlier observances and traditions, it was Lincoln who asked the nation to set aside the fourth Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” Unlike his earlier Emancipation Proclamation and his later Gettysburg speech, this document was not written by Lincoln, but rather by his Secretary of State William Seward. Much of the credit though belongs to Sarah Josepha Hale, who lobbied state and federal officials to create a fixed, national day of thanks.
The bust of Lincoln featured in this post is a recent gift to the Cornell University Library by Steve Leveen, Cornell 1982, Phd., and CEO and co-founder of Levenger. I want to extend a personal thank you to Mr. Leveen. His gift is now part of our Gettysburg Address exhibition. This sculpture, cast in 1990 by Zenos Frudakis, depicts Lincoln as he looked in 1863. Mr. Frudakis used the Leonard Volk life mask as a reference for his life-size bust, and his bust of Lincoln now sits alongside Cornell’s copy of the Volk bust of Lincoln, which was a gift to Cornell by Andrew D. White.
Thank you, Mr. Leveen, and Happy Thanksgiving to all.