There was no nationally standardized date for Thanksgiving in 1861, but twenty states declared it on Nov. 28. The Times reproduced the Thanksgiving proclamations of the Governor of New York and the Mayor of New York City.
From the New York Times:
THANKSGIVING DAY.; Twenty States Observing the Anniversary Proclamations of Gov. Morgan, and Mayor Wood. PROCLAMATION BY GOV. MORGAN.
In the twenty States named below, to-day has been fixed for the celebration of the annual thanksgiving:
New-York, New-Hampshire, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Kansas, Maryland, Kentucky, Delaware, Western Virginia, Texas.
We append the proclamations issued in this State and City:
Amid the tramp of armies, the sound of fratricidal strife and lamentation for the fallen, we still behold the merciful arm of the Ruler of the Universe made bare for our protection. Though a suicidal war, stimulated by leaders of faction, and waged with all the power of a great and misguided people, weighs like the hand of death upon the National energies, and throws its dark shadow over the land; though this nation, so recently prospering under Heaven’s brightest smile, and advancing with gigantic steps toward greatness and power, has been arrested in its progress, and is suffering the deep humiliation and blighting influence of a murderous civil war, yet we have infinite cause for thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God. Disease has been stayed from the fireside and from the camp; internal order has prevailed; plenty has abounded; liberty of conscience remains unabridged; ordinary pursuits have been uninterrupted; our National rights are respected; partisan animosities are fast burning out, and the spirit of fraternal affection has been beautifully manifest throughout a wide extent of our common country. Though composed of the representatives of many nations, a general calamity has revealed our strange homogeneity, has served to obliterate prejudices, has moved all alike by the same patriotic emotion. All alike have responded to the call to save our imperiled institutions. The marvelous energy which the crisis calls forth proves our national spirit to be unabated, our vigor unwasted, and gives promise, under the blessings of God, of a higher position in all that constitutes true national greatness. Though evils follow the train of armies, yet for these we have a great compensation in the fact that the exposures and expenditures incident to war will necessarily counteract the tendency of the age to effeminacy and luxury.
In this hour of attraction, though we may not presume to lift the veil which mercifully hides the future, yet we believe that, in the wondrous plan of God, if we but humbly bow before Him and acknowledge our National sins, Infinite Wisdom will work out from this great tribulation a marked and permanent good; that the startling evidence of the mutability of human affairs taught us in the lessons of the year will tend to subdue our hearts, and that this noble Union, the work of men inspired by the loftiest patriotism, the wonder of the world, and the glory of this Nation, will be preserved. For the blessings seen by us, and for those which in the providence of God are vouchsafed unto us, but which mortal eye cannot discern, we should make our public acknowledgments:
Therefore, I, EDWIN D. MORGAN, Governor of the State of New-York, do appoint THURSDAY, THE TWENTY-EIGHTH DAY OF NOVEMBER next, as a day of Praise, Thanksgiving and Prayer to Almighty God; and I do earnestly recommend that the people of this State do, on that day, abstain from their usual occupations, and assembling in their respective places of worship, unite in humble expressions of gratitude to Him from whom we derive all blessings, and to whom we look for a restoration of peace to our beloved country.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and affixed the privy seal of the State, at the [L.S.] City of Albany, this first day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one.
By the Governor, EDWIN D. MORGAN, LOCEWOOD L. DOTY, Private Secretary.
PROCLAMATION BY MAYOR WOOD.
The Governor of this State having, in accordance with a time-honored custom, appointed Thursday, the 28th day of November inst., as a day of public thanksgiving, I, FERNANDO WOOD, Mayor of the City of New-York, do hereby recommend all good citizens to unite on the day thus set apart, in ascriptions of praise to the source of all good, for His manifold mercies and blessings.
Amidst the evils which the folly and wickedness of man have produced, the unchanging goodness of the Creator may well awake our devout wonder. No language can adequately express the extent of His love; but your honored pastors, instructed by the sublime teachings of Revelation, will best guide your grateful devotions. I am sure that decorum and rational enjoyment will mark this religious festival, as ever, in the City of New-York, and I feel it only necessary to remind those blessed with abundance to remember, at this inclement season and period of general distress, the poor, the fatherless, and the widow. Perhaps the [???] of the Universe, thus entreated by the voice of mercy, may remove from our beloved country the scourge of war. That He may vouchsafe to do so, is my sincere prayer.
Given under my hand and seal, at the City of New-York, this 18th November, 1861.
[L.S.] FERNANDO WOOD, Mayor.