Forget the Pilgrims, We Have Lincoln to Thank for Thanksgiving

Before shopping and football, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving to be a holiday for American solidarity.

The country is at war. Americans are at each others' throats. People are disappointed in the President and many think (hope?) he won't be re-elected. So it goes in October, 1863, when President Lincoln proclaims the last Thursday in November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."


It's an interesting document, not least for what is not in it. Its praises are not for victory, but rather for the fact that life goes on—that, despite the civil war, "the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom." Then, too, Lincoln recommends that Americans, "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."

In other words, his proclamation divides humanity into the Grateful and the Afflicted—not the Right and the Wrong, or our Friends and our Foes. Before turkey dinners, shopping and football, Thanksgiving was the holiday of We Are All in This Together. Fellow-American readers, have a good one.

Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote the video, or videos, you want to win.

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in. And note: We'll only count upvotes (not downvotes).

Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Oumuamua, a quarter-mile long asteroid tumbling through space, is Hawaiian for "scout", or "the first of many".
  • It was given this name because it came from another solar system.
  • Some claimed Oumuamua was an alien technology, but there's no actual evidence for that.

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less

7 fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Here are 7 often-overlooked World Heritage Sites, each with its own history.

Photo by Raunaq Patel on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites are locations of high value to humanity, either for their cultural, historical, or natural significance.
  • Some are even designated as World Heritage Sites because humans don't go there at all, while others have felt the effects of too much human influence.
  • These 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites each represent an overlooked or at-risk facet of humanity's collective cultural heritage.
Keep reading Show less