A Special Place to Note Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation
President Abraham Lincoln signed the first annual national Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1863, designating the last Thursday of November as the official day of celebration for the country. He saw this holiday as a time for a war-weary people to pause and give thanks that the Civil War would soon be over.
Built by presidential son Robert Lincoln in 1905, Hildene was home to three generations of the President’s direct descendants for 70 years.
These days, guests to the historic site are encouraged to visit the Lincoln exhibit on the second floor of the home, honoring the legacy of the nation’s 16th President. ‘The American Ideal: Abraham Lincoln and the Second Inaugural’ is set within the context of Lincoln’s greatest speech, harkening back to the then-radical beliefs first enunciated in the Declaration of Independence: equality, justice and opportunity for all. Among the many artifacts featured in the exhibit are one of only three of the President’s iconic stovepipe hats in existence and a Lincoln Bible.
To applaud President Lincoln’s role in making Thanksgiving a day of celebration for all Americans and to acknowledge his relentless curiosity and ability to tackle the most serious of challenges, Hildene challenges its visitors to ‘Guess the Lincoln Pennies in the Jar.’ The contest runs through Sunday, December 3, at the conclusion of The Museum Store’s annual open house, ‘Our Home for the Holidays?’ Youth ages five to 15 accompanied by an adult are invited to stop by the Welcome Center during this time to record their estimate. Those 16 and older may also participate. Only one entry per person is allowed; no admission fee or store purchase is required to make a guess. The winner will be the person whose guess comes closest to the total number of pennies.
The Lincoln Family Home at Hildene is open daily from 9:30 to 4:30. (It will be closed November 23, Thanksgiving Day, and December 24, 25 and 26.)
Guests are invited to explore the 412-acre estate beginning at the Welcome Center. There is a lot to see in addition to the Lincoln family’s home and gardens, including the goat dairy and cheese-making facility, Dene Farm and 12 miles of trails. Admission is $20 for adults and $5 for children under 14. Members, volunteers and children under six are free. For more information, visit hildene.org or call 802-362-1788.