The First Thanksgiving

The Pilgrim Fathers incorporated a yearly Thanksgiving day among the moral influences they sent over the New World. After our Independence the light crept slowly onward and westward... yet still it blessed and beautified the homes it reached.
Sarah Josepha Hale, Godey's Lady's Book 1865

The Pilgrims' 1621 Thanksgiving
October 1621: Harvest Feast

Plymouth Governor William Bradford declares a feast to give thanks to God for their first harvest. Massasoit and 90 other Wampanoag are invited to join the 52 Pilgrims for this three-day feast.

The English serve wild turkeys, geese, and ducks. The Wampanoag bring five deer, along with lobsters, clams, oysters, and fish. The feast also includes cucumbers, carrots, cabbages, turnips, radishes, onions, beets, corn, and wild fruits.

Letter from Edward Winslow December, 11 1621
Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after have a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the company almost a week, at which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although 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 you partakers of our plenty.

Your loving friend,
E.W. [Edward Winslow]
Plymouth in New England this 11th of December, 1621.

After 1621

More English people arrive at Plymouth. They begin settling other areas nearby. Sometimes the English give the Native Americans beads or tools in exchange for the land. But the natives believe that the land belongs to everyone and cannot be owned.

Today only a small number of Wampanoag still live in this area.


A Thanksgiving Prayer
Samuel F. Pugh

"O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.

Wishing You and Yours a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving
From John at Heavens Gates

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