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Pilgrims Set First Thanksgiving Day to Thank God (1621)

Posted by FactReal on November 22, 2012

PILGRIMS DECLARE THEIR FIRST PUBLIC THANKSGIVING FESTIVAL IN 1621
From the Life and Time of William Brewster, ruling Elder of the Pilgrims who founded New Plymouth, the parent colony of New England, in 1620:

In 1621, from the month of May of their first year to November, the prospects of the Pilgrim colony became gradually more encouraging: The first summer’s provisions were gathered; summer breezes and health came to the enfeebled survivors; autumn advanced. Thus, the Pilgrims decide to declare a three-day feast at the end of 1621 to thank God and to celebrate America’s first Thanksgiving Festival.

At length, autumn being far advanced, and their first summer’s harvest of Indian corn being gathered in, they fitted their houses, and made their arrangements against the coming winter. And now, while some were employed in service abroad, and some in fishing, to furnish for each family a goodly supply, others again were engaged in hunting, procuring, among other game, water fowl, wild turkey, and venison. Of meal, or Indian corn, one peck a week for each person was the apportioned supply. Of other meal, or wheat, they had none; nor had they any mill for grinding; therefore their corn must be pounded or mashed by their own hands. Yet even this supply, being deemed sufficient for the present colonists, caused some of them to write home to their friends, in England, in more glowing terms than was prudent or warrantable. The effect was, that these descriptions of plenty induced subsequent emigrants to come without bringing with them their needful stores.

The provision for the little colony being secured for the ensuing winter, their governor set apart a day for public thanksgiving. Accordingly, with the fruits of their labors, the thankful feast was prepared, that all might in a special manner rejoice together, under a grateful sense of these tokens of divine mercy. It was their first thanksgiving or harvest festival in the New World. And we may well conjecture what were the feelings, and what the theme of the Elder, as, assembled in their “Common House,” he led the devotions of these worshippers, and spoke to them words befitting the occasion.

The occasion was likewise improved, as a fit time, to interest and favorably influence the neighboring Indians. “Among other recreations,” says Winslow, ” we exercised our arms; many of the Indians coming amongst us, and with them came their greatest King, Massasoit, accompanied by some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted. They also went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation, and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And though it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet, by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish our friends partakers with us.”

Thus are we brought to the conclusion of the first year’s trials, hardships, and sufferings of the pilgrim company, with the loss of life, and the present temporary relief.

SOURCE
Ashbel Steele, Chief of the Pilgrims: Or the Life and Time of William Brewster (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co, 1857), pp. 269-270.

RELATED
True Story of Thanksgiving: Thanking God and How Socialism Failed
THANKSGIVING – As Written by the Pilgrims: The Mayflower Compact, the Pilgrim journals, etc.

3 Responses to “Pilgrims Set First Thanksgiving Day to Thank God (1621)”

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