Thanksgiving Day thoughts: Sermon in 1846 from son of York County resonates today

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Dr. Charles H. Glatfelter addresses members of the extended Glatfelter family at the York County, Pa., Heritage Trust’s Agricultural and Industrial Museum. The seeds for the sprawling Casper Glattfelter family in America were planted in York County. Charles Glatfelter, a York County native, is longtime historian for the Glatfelter family, with all its variations in spellings. Glatfelter, Morgan Smith head industrial legacy list and Glatfelter family history is as clear as … paper and Gift to York countian Millard Gladfelter: ‘Gladdie, who wears wonderful good after 25 years’.

For 20 years, I’ve written editorials for the York Daily Record and York Sunday News tied to the major Christian holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
Just like the preacher, I’m always on the lookout for material for the editorials months in advance of the appointed holiday.
I had an idea this year but was able to defer it for 12 months. That happened last week when I received a letter from Dr. Charles H. Glatfelter addressing several items of historical interest… .


I am always glad to see an envelope from Dr. Glatfelter in the mail.There’s always a bit of suspense because he reads my York Sunday News column and occasionally offers a critique which is always gentle and always on point.
This letter, he told of his experience as a lad with The Gazette and Daily’s Boys and Girls Newspaper.
And he shared a copy of Samuel Simon Schmucker’s address on the Christian and politics. That came in response to a recent column in which I addressed York countians’ lack of affinity with Abraham Lincoln and his candidacy in 1860 and 1864 and their generally ambivalent stance on slavery.
He informed me that the great Lutheran leader Schmucker firmly opposed slavery as early as 1846.
“Long before page 30 he denounced slavery, but at least in 1846 he did not favor a war to end it. How many others may have felt the same way,” Dr. Glatfelter wrote.
So I turned Schmucker’s sermon into the basis for a Thanksgiving editorial: 1846 sermon still resonates.
But I must say that the biggest thrill in receiving letters from the distinguished and erudite Dr. Glatfelter, professor emeritus of history at Gettysburg College, is his kind signature: “Charlie.”
Also of interest:
I included the following information with the editorial:
– To read more about Samuel Simon Schmucker and the Lutheran denomination, check out Charles H. Glatfelter’s “York County Pennsylvania Lutherans” at your local library, www.yorklibraries.org.
– For more on Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation that established the day as an annual national holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, visit: www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2009/nr09-25.html.
– York County owns a piece of America’s Thanksgiving tradition. In the fall of 1777, Continental Congress, meeting in York, proclaimed a national Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to commemorate the Continental Army’s badly needed victory over the British in the Battle of Saratoga. It was the first of seven such days in the American Revolution.

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Samuel Simon Schmucker’s published address.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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