State leaders pass proclamation in observance of the anniversary of the
president’s call for national prayer
BY PATRICK CLOONAN
Tuesday marks the 150th anniversary of a national day of fasting and prayer, proclaimed by President
Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the American Civil War.
“I do hereby request all the people to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion,” said the document Lincoln signed on March 30, 1863.
“Insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national
reformation as a whole people?” the president asked.
Sen. James Harlan of Iowa introduced that proclamation on March 2, 1863. It was passed by Congress
the following day.
“Lincoln proclaimed nine such days in his short presidency,” said state Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township, principal sponsor of a state House resolution passed on March 21 of this year that recognizes Tuesday as “National Fast Day.”
“In our country’s history, we recognized similar resolutions over 200 times,” Saccone said. “Lincoln’s proclamation was published in newspapers across the country (and) the day was observed by citizens across the
“In observance of this day we are reminded that it stands as an opportunity to seek God’s guidance for all our leaders and grace upon His people,” said state Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Carrick, one of 27 co-sponsors of
House Resolution 17. Readshaw is known for his interest in the Civil War and its climactic July 1-3, 1863, battle in and around Gettysburg, Adams County.
“It is a demonstration that vividly expresses President Lincoln’s wisdom and reverence as a person of God,” Readshaw said. “As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s proclaiming a ‘National Fast Day,’ we should also recall the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and the historical facts that indicate the religious beliefs of President Lincoln that guided the nation during the Civil War.”
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven,” the president proclaimed in 1863. “We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.”
Saccone is among those who think God has been forgotten in modern times.
“In a time when our culture is spiraling downward into a moral abyss, we have, as Lincoln said, lost touch with God,” Saccone said at a Wednesday Harrisburg news conference. “We have fashioned a moral vacuum into which all manner of depravity is allowed to rush in, and is even encouraged to rush in, while any trace of virtue, God or the Holy Scriptures is consciously sucked out.”
Saccone’s office said nine other lawmakers and some pro-life advocates also attended that news conference.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.