HISTORY OF THANKSGIVING
Welcome to goodmorningjokes.com In 1621, the
In 1621, the thanks giving colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn
harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving
Celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of
Thanksgiving was celebrated by individual colonies and states with respect and honor. It wasn’t until
1863, Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln claimed
a national Thanksgiving Day is held each November 2016.
THANKSGIVING AT PLYMOUTH
In September 1620, a small ship called Mayflower left Plymouth, England,
carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a
new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals
Lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After
a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped
anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the
The mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower
crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly
known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.
Did You Know?
Lobster, seal, an astonishing and swans were on the Pilgrims’s menu.
Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board
the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy, and outbreaks of
contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and
crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining
settlers moved ashore, where an unusual visit from an
Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned
with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who
had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before
escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory
expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness,
how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and
avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the
Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and
tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European
colonists and Native Americans.
In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful,
Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group
of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag
chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first
Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term
at the time—the festival lasted for three days. While no record exists of the
historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in
his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in
preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing
five deer. Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely
prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods.
Because the Pilgrims had no oven and the Mayflower’s sugar supply had
dwindled by the fall of 1621, the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other
desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations.
Check out the Thanksgiving by the Numbers infographic for more facts about
how the first Thanksgiving compares to modern holiday traditions.
THANKSGIVING BECOMES AN OFFICIAL
Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end
of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted
Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving
on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New
England settlements as well. During the American Revolution, the Continental
Congress designated one or more days of thanksgiving a year, and in
1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the
national government of the United States; in it, he called upon Americans to
express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of
independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His
successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks
during their presidencies.
In 1817, New York became the first of several states to officially adopt an
annual Thanksgiving holiday each celebrated it on a different day, however,
and the American South remained largely unfamiliar with the tradition. In
1827, the noted magazine editor and prolific writer Sarah Josepha
Hale—author, among countless other things, of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had
a Little Lamb”—launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national
holiday. For 36 years, she published numerous editorials and sent scores of
letters to governors, senators, presidents and other politicians. Abraham
Lincoln finally heeded her request in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a
proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender
care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in
the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” He
scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was
celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D.
Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales
during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as
Franksgiving, was met with passionate opposition, and in 1941 the president
reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in
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