Lincoln's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation
  • Rereading Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation establishing the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day, I couldn’t help but be struck by the elegant sentences that gird the document. Here is but one:

    To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

    Subordinate clause upon subordinate clause unites a complex thought into a single sentence. Young people today, most of whom are no longer expected to read Charles Dickens or Charlotte Bronte where such elaboration is commonplace, probably find it annoyingly obtuse. The simplistic repetitiveness so often employed by our current President more befits an age where attention spans extend only to a sound bite.

    As is so often expressed on this forum, change is inevitable but it is noble to resist the erosion of humankind’s greatest achievements.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,858
    Old time Yankees may remember this:
  • Leave it the ever-astute Liam to catch my error. Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving to be the last Thursday in November, not the fourth Thursday we observe today.
  • See, all of those subordinate clauses obfuscated the meaning... [/purple]

    Happy Thanksgiving!
  • Many thanks for posting this beautiful and inspiring example -

    And, it didn't stop on the desk of Lincoln as president. If one has ever read letters by ordinary people of past times, or soldiers at war, one will know that there was a level of sensitive literacy and vocabulary even amongst common folk that has no parallel in our time. And, what a work of art is the penmanship of the ordinary school boys who took pride in it! Not so nowadays when even the writing of PhDs is often illegible.