The First Thanksgiving


Our nation will observe Thanksgiving on Thursday November 26, 2009.   Those we refer to as the founders of this nation, thought it not strange to call upon the Lord in times of trouble and to offer prayers of thanksgiving for his blessings and divine protection. 


The first winter at Plymouth, nearly half the Pilgrims perished. They planted crops the next spring and they grew well, but as the summer wore on, it became hot and dry.   The drought came and their crops began to wither. 


William Bradford (1590-1657, an English leader of the Plymouth Colony, a governor, signer and primary architect of the Mayflower Compact.) wrote:


“Upon which they set apart a solemn day of humiliation, to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer, in this great distress.  And He was pleased to give them a gracious and speedy answer, both to their own and the Indians admiration, that lived among them.  For all the morning, and the greatest part of the day, it was clear weather and very hot and not a cloud or any sign of rain to be seen, yet toward evening it began to overcast, and shortly after to rain, with such sweet and gentle showers, and gave them cause of rejoicing, and blessing God.   It came without either wind, or thunder, or any violence, and by degrees in abundance, as that the earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith.  Which did so apparently revive and quicken the decayed corn and other fruits, as was wonderful to see, and made the Indians astonished to behold, and afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers with interchange of fair, warmer weather, as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing.  For which mercy, (in time convenient) they also set apart a day of thanksgiving.”


Edward Winslow (1595-1655, a Pilgrim leader on the Mayflower, signer of the Mayflower Compact) wrote of the autumn of 1621, what we call the first Thanksgiving: 


 “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had fathered the fruits 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 amongst 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 partaker of our plenty.”


Sources: History of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford


Contributed by Kathryn Currier
posted November 24, 2009



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