1861 and travel to Washington DC in North America where today President Abraham Lincoln recommended a day of public humiliation, prayer, and fasting to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnities and the offering of fervent supplications to Almighty God “for the safety and welfare of these States, His blessings on their arms, and a speedy restoration of peace:”
It was at the beginning of the American Civil War which would last for another four years, between states supporting the federal union ("the Union" or "the North") and southern states that voted to secede and form the Confederate States of America ("the Confederacy" or "the South"). The central cause of the war was the status of slavery, especially the expansion of slavery into newly acquired land after the Mexican–American War. On the eve of the Civil War in 1860, four million of the 32 million Americans (nearly 13%) were black slaves, mostly in the South. The practice of slavery in the United States was one of the key political issues of the 19th century; decades of political unrest over slavery led up to the war. The spark came after Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 United States presidential election on an anti-slavery expansion platform. An initial seven Southern slave states declared their secession from the country to form the Confederacy.
During his presidency Abraham Lincoln issued a total of nine proclamations of prayer, fasting, or thanksgiving. He had grown up in a highly religious Baptist family but never joined any Church, and was a sceptic as a young man and sometimes ridiculed revivalists. However, he frequently referred to God and had a deep knowledge of the Bible, often quoting it. Lincoln attended Protestant church services with his wife and children, and after two of them died he became more intensely concerned with religion. However, his faith was private and ambiguous, following Lincoln's assassination, there were competing biographies, some claiming Lincoln had been a Christian and others that he had been a non-believer. In 1872, Colonel Ward Hill Lamon published his Life of Abraham Lincoln; Lamon had been a law partner with Lincoln in Illinois, from 1852 until 1857, and later was Lincoln's personal bodyguard in Washington. Lamon's biography stated that Lincoln did not himself believe in the divinity of Jesus, but he certainly believed in God. In today’s proclamation Lincoln said
Whereas it is fit and becoming in all people at all times to acknowledge and revere the supreme government of God, to bow in humble submission to His chastisements, to confess and deplore their sins and transgressions in the full conviction that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and to pray with all fervency and contrition for the pardon of their past offenses and for a blessing upon their present and prospective action;
Whereas when our own beloved country, once, by the blessing of God, united, prosperous, and happy, is now afflicted with faction and civil war, it is peculiarly fit for us to recognize the hand of God in this terrible visitation, and in sorrowful remembrance of our own faults and crimes as a nation and as individuals to humble ourselves before Him and to pray for His mercy--to pray that we may be spared further punishment, though most justly deserved; that our arms may be blessed and made effectual for the reestablishment of law, order, and peace throughout the wide extent of our country; and that the inestimable boon of civil and religious liberty, earned under His guidance and blessing by the labors and sufferings of our fathers, may be restored in all its original excellence:
Therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do appoint the last Thursday in September next as a day of humiliation, prayer, and fasting for all the people of the nation. And I do earnestly recommend to all the people, and especially to all ministers and teachers of religion of all denominations and to all heads of families, to observe and keep that day according to their several creeds and modes of worship in all humility and with all religious solemnity, to the end that the united prayer of the nation may ascend to the Throne of Grace and bring down plentiful blessings upon our country.