The first Thanksgiving was a harvest celebration held by the pilgrims of Plymouth colony in the 17th century.
The 53 pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving were the only colonists to
survive the long journey on the Mayflower and the first winter in the
New World. They included 22 men, four married women and more than 25
children and teenagers. These pilgrims made it through that first winter
and, with the help of the local Wampanoag tribe, they had a hearty
supply of food to sustain them through the next winter.
One of the pilgrims, Edward Winslow, stated:
“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
gathered 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 partakers of our plenty.”
One of these Indians,
a young man named Squanto, spoke fluent English and had been appointed
by Massasoit to serve as the pilgrim’s translator and guide. Squanto
learned English prior to the pilgrim’s arrival after he was captured by
English explorers and spent time in Europe as a slave.
Continental Congress declared the first national Thanksgiving on
December 18, 1777, and then in 1789, George Washington declared the last
Thursday in November a national Thanksgiving as well.
The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth by Jennie Augusta Browncome