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" A Proclamation For A Day Of Public Thanksgiving And Praise"

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Every year the governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issues a proclamation for Thanksgiving Day. Prior to 1863, when Abraham Lincoln set a permanent day for Thanksgiving, each state set its own date; some years there was none at all. The language of this 1848 declaration by Gov. Briggs of Massachusetts is typical, save for some very topical references. 1848 was the year the Mexican War ended with the Treaty of Guadeloupe that ceded almost half of Mexico to the United States. New England had been opposed to the war which many saw as an effort to extend territory for slavery. Briggs calls for an end to "the further extension of slavery," an institution he declares is "repugnant to the rights of humanity." The debates over the status of the land taken from Mexico would eventually lead to a decade of political crises that would end in the Civil War.


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