Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 5.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

Order for Sabbath Observance [1]

Executive Mansion, Washington, November 15, 1862.

The President, Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, desires and enjoins the orderly observance of the Sabbath by the officers and men in the military and naval service. The importance for man and beast of the prescribed weekly rest, the sacred rights of Christian soldiers and sailors, a becoming deference to the best sentiment of a Christian people, and a due regard for the Divine will, demand that Sunday labor in the Army and Navy be reduced to the measure of strict necessity.

Page  498The discipline and character of the national forces should not suffer, nor the cause they defend be imperiled, by the profanation of the day or name of the Most High. ``At this time of public distress''---adopting the words of Washington in 1776---``men may find enough to do in the service of God and their country without abandoning themselves to vice and immorality.'' The first General Order issued by the Father of his Country after the Declaration of Independence, [2] indicates the spirit in which our institutions were founded and should ever be defended: ``The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.'' ABRAHAM LINCOLN.


[1]   AGO General Orders(not numbered), November 15, 1862; Navy General Orders No.5, February 10, 1863. The original is missing from the file of Adjutant General Letters Received (DNA WR RG 94) but a typewritten copy (P-1070 with 5706 AGO 1884) has been preserved. An account dated November 13 in the New York Tribune, November 14, 1862, records that ``Messrs. Fred. Winston, David Hoodley, Foster, Booth, and another gentleman, representing religious bodies in New-York City, called upon the President and heads of departments today to urge upon him the propriety of enforcing a better observance of the Sabbath in the army. The interviews are represented as agreeable and satisfactory.''

[2]   July 9, 1776.