National Day of Prayer – William McKinley
Address to the People for Thanksgiving and Prayer
July 6, 1898
To the People of the United States of America:
At this time, when to the yet fresh remembrance of the unprecedented success which attended the operations of the United States fleet in the bay of Manila on the 1st day of May last are added the tidings of the no less glorious achievements of the naval and military arms of our beloved country at Santiago de Cuba, it is fitting that we should pause and, staying the feeling of exultation that too naturally attends great deeds wrought by our countrymen in our country’s cause, should reverently bow before the throne of divine grace and give devout praise to God, who holdeth the nations in the hollow of His hands and worketh upon them the marvels of His high will, and who has thus far vouchsafed to us the light of His face and led our brave soldiers and seamen to victory.
I therefore ask the people of the United States, upon next assembling for divine worship in their respective places of meeting, to offer thanksgiving to Almighty God, who in His inscrutable ways, now leading our hosts upon the waters to unscathed triumph; now guiding them in a strange land, through the dread shadows of death, to success, even though at a fearful cost; now bearing them, without accident or loss, to far distant climes, has watched over our cause and brought nearer the success of the right and the attainment of just and honorable peace.
With the nation’s thanks let there be mingled the nation’s prayers that our gallant sons may be shielded from harm alike on the battlefield and in the clash of fleets, and be spared the scourge of suffering and disease while they are striving to uphold their country’s honor; and withal let the nation’s heart be stilled with holy awe at the thought of the noble men who have perished as heroes die, and be filled with compassionate sympathy for all those who suffer bereavement or endure sickness, wounds, and bonds by reason of the awful struggle. And above all, let us pray with earnest fervor that He, the Dispenser of All Good, may speedily remove from us the untold afflictions of war and bring to our dear land the blessings of restored peace and to all the domain now ravaged by the cruel strife the priceless boon of security and tranquillity.