In the fall of 1863, just months after roughly 50,000 soldiers died at the Battle of Gettysburg, President Lincoln called for a national Thanksgiving celebration.
Given the bloody battles and deep divisions within the country marked by the Civil War, it seemed like an odd time to ask everyone to set aside a day to give thanks. Then again, Lincoln began his presidency by appealing to our "better angels."
Lincoln's eloquent plea is a good reminder as families and friends gather today to celebrate Thanksgiving. Once again, the country is deeply divided, not by war, but by the battle for the White House.
Some family members are at odds with one another over the election. Some don't want to see or speak with a relative with opposing political views. The hard feelings go beyond typical differences between Republican and Democratic policies.
Many Democrats find President-elect Donald Trump repugnant. Meanwhile, many Trump supporters think Hillary Clinton is an out-of-touch elitist, or worse.
Adding fuel to the fire is social media - that largely means you Facebook - which has helped to exacerbate the anger through virtual confrontations between friends and family who post comments with differing political views.
So before everyone sits down to dinner, it might be good to take a deep breath. Keep in mind that thanksgiving is an action word.
Even if Uncle Frank says something inflammatory, remember the immortal words of Oscar Wilde: "After a good dinner one can forgive anybody - even one's own relations."
But in the interest of civility, let's get a few of the incredulous questions bubbling just below hello off our collective chests right now. Pick the one that best suits your politics.
How could anyone vote for Donald Trump?
Haven't you had enough of the arrogant Clintons?
What were you thinking wasting your vote on Gary Johnson or Jill Stein?
What do you mean you didn't vote?
OK, now that we have that out of the way; let's forget about politics for one day. Relax. Pull up a seat. Grab a beer, and turn on the football game.
Share stories about the good times growing up together, when the fights were about control of the TV or whose turn it was to do the dishes. Pull out the family photo albums. Toast a loved one who has passed on.
Keep in mind that even with all our faults and differences, we are more alike than different. Every American hit the global citizenship lottery. And no matter what goes on in Washington, what really matters is family, friends, and good health.
As Lincoln reminded the country in his first inaugural address: "We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection."
Pass the turkey, and raise a glass.