By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and — Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Thanksgiving in North Carolina
As we travel and meet with family this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, there are two items that are bound to be on most tables — turkeys and sweet potatoes. North Carolina is ranked first nationally in sweet potato production and second nationally for turkey production. The state’s agriculture industry generates between $11-$12 billion from the sale of agricultural commodities each year, with livestock, dairy, and poultry making up 63 percent and crops making up 37 percent of total farm sales.
A native crop and the official North Carolina vegetable, sweet potatoes were grown by Native Americans prior to the colonial period and continue to be grown today as one of the state’s top agricultural products. Grown primarily in the coastal plain because of the sandy soil and temperate climate, sweet potatoes are found primarily in Johnston, Nash, Wilson, and Sampson Counties. North Carolina has been ranked first in the nation for sweet potato production since 1971 and makes up nearly half of the total US production. In 2013, there were 62,000 acres planted with sweet potatoes that yielded more than 12.4 million potatoes.
Predominantly harvested by hand, most North Carolina sweet potatoes are sold fresh. Years ago the vegetable was only available during its harvesting period from August until November, but advancements in storage facilities now give consumers access year round. Sweet potatoes have been used in a variety of ways over the years and today are used in many different dishes. They can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, baked, and fried and are found in chips, in frozen and microwave products, or on grocery store shelves. North Carolina is also home to many food manufacturers that specialize canning, sweet potato fries, juicing, and dehydrating.
And while we all appreciate our sweet potato side dishes, no one can have a true Thanksgiving meal without the turkey. North Carolina was the top turkey producing state during the 1980s and 1990s and since the mid-2000s has been the second largest producer of turkeys in America. The farming of turkeys is concentrated in the southeastern piedmont and coastal regions of the state. The leading turkey producing county is Sampson, which is also home to a small town named Turkey. Other top counties for turkeys are Duplin, Wayne, Union and Onslow. In 2012, there were 36 million turkeys raised and 1.2 billion pounds produced, with a value of $848.8 million statewide.
North Carolina is home to three large turkey companies: Butterball in Garner, House of Raeford Farms in Raeford, and Prestage Foods in St. Paul’s. North Carolina, along with the entire turkey industry, has faced many challenging obstacles in the past few years. New diseases have caused higher than normal death rates, while a rise in corn prices (the main ingredient in turkey feed) has caused the price of production to increase. Chicken has also eroded some of the consumer demand for turkey as lower cost meat.
Overall, the North Carolina economy is positively affected by the agriculture sector. Turkeys and sweet potatoes are just two of the many commodities that North Carolina produces at top levels nationwide. So while you are gathered with friends and family this Thursday, remember there is a good chance you are eating turkey and sweet potatoes from North Carolina. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
The preceding article was written by Sarah Curry of the John Locke Foundation. It was first published on November 24, 2014 and reappears here with permission. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!