Today is a History lesson of Thanksgiving. I tell you the real story of the first Thanksgiving, and how the first Thanksgiving was started.
Before I get started… ON THURSDAY, I WILL HAVE A FAMILY-FRIENDLY AUDIO VERSION POSTED, SO YOUR FAMILY CAN LISTEN TOGETHER. So please, come back and listen to my audio version of the Thanksgiving Story.
The typical historic view of Thanksgiving Day in most grade-school history books and the way it is portrayed in all of the “Turkey-Day” plays is one of erroneous facts and dates. In this story, the settlers show up in Plymouth, Massachusetts and they meet Squanto, whom teaches them how to hunt and fish. In 1621, everyone hunts Turkey, The Indians bring a bunch of corn, everyone was happy.
There is controversy over the way Thanksgiving was actually created.
First, I must say that my lineage is one of a large Danish and Native American decent. I am mostly Euro, but a large portion of Native American. With this being said…
A large bit of controversy is from a large Native American Population that observes a “day of mourning” for the “white man’s evil genocide.” And many of them treat the descendants like we can help what happened. I don’t look at modern-day Germans like scum because a horrible thing happened there in the past to the Jews. Rant over, and I will come back to the story of this in just a minute.
The Pilgrims landed in 1620 and founded New Plymouth in what is now Massachusetts. They were mainly Separatists (English Dissenters). They were pathetic hunters and horrible butchers, but great at prayer. They were essentially English City Folk. Their preparedness was lacking. They were high in faith, but lacking many useful skills.
Where does Squanto come in? He was sent to England as a slave, and was one of the few that survived slavery. He came back to home with knowledge of the English language.
Even if he was a slave, he and his tribe did teach and hunt with the Pilgrims.
The feast in the year 1621 was a 3 day feast that was described in Edward Winslow’s letter. It was a joint hunting party involving the Pilgrims and Indians. There was no mention of “Thanksgiving” in any historic documentation.
These Pilgrims were also communists. In “Of Plymouth Plantation”, Governor William Bradford noted that they had set up a system where the land and harvest were shared in common (the land was shared and so was the harvest). They had poor harvest years up till 1623, when they decided that their system of governing was NOT working. The strong, healthy, and agile were not incentivized to work harder than everyone else, because their gain would be given out to others.
At this point they had a colony meeting, where they decided to move to individual enterprise. They decided that they would share the land, by allotting plots of land to each family. They could not sell or inherit the land. The big difference was the fact that everyone was allowed to keep their harvest. If they worked hard, they gained much.
This system was a booming success. It looked as if the harvest would be a great one. But, as it is in nature, a drought came and it looked hopeless. Surely, they were going to starve to death. They did what they were good at, and knowing that they had limited food, it seemed like a good idea.
They held a “day of humiliation” and prayer, on which they fasted. They began observing these days more and more as the food supply dwindled. After each of these multi-day fasting sessions, they would have a good meal, but not great like we would think. Eventually the harvest was actually saved by a 14 day rain that revived all of the crops.
They believed that it was because of God’s intervention that this happened and Governor Bradford proclaimed November 29th 1623, a day of thanksgiving. This was the first recorded observance under civil authority. This is why I think this is the first “actual” thanksgiving, but there wasn’t any sharing of food with Native Americans that I am aware of.
There are lessons here that I will visit as I wrap up. Keep reading…
Now, let us shift over to the massacre. Because it was extremely close to Thanksgiving and thanks were given, it is erroneously thought that this was THE Thanksgiving, but it is not in my opinion.
There was yet another colony made up of Puritans with many different beliefs than those of Plymouth. This was the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1637, A voluntary group of heavily armed hunters went into and returned from what is now Mystic, Connecticut where they killed 700 Indians during their annual Green Corn Festival. Governor John Winthrop declared this day, “A day of Thanksgiving” because the band of people returned safely.
This was a tragedy, and was wrong, but wasn’t the first written record of a “Thanksgiving observance.”
None of those were the “National Thanksgiving,” although, obviously, this time period was in mind when it was made a national holiday, so let’s tangent a bit to some of the political history around it.
John Hanson, who was president of the Continental Congress, on October 11, 1782, declared that the fourth Thursday of every November was to be a Thanksgiving Day.
Then September 25, 1789, Congressman Elias Boudinot, from New Jersey, proposed that the House and Senate jointly request of President Washington to proclaim a day of thanksgiving for “the many signal favors of Almighty God”, one day after the House of Reps voted to recommend the First Amendment of the newly drafted Constitution to the states for ratification.
October 3, 1789, George Washington created the first Thanksgiving Day designated by the national government of the United States of America.
Now that, I have explained to you all of the facts, and some of my minor opinions, it is time to explain why I would do this post. I could have just taken Thanksgiving week off of writing.
With the controversy and mix-up of when and why Thanksgiving Day was observed, we leave out important lessons that could and should be learned.
Lesson #1: Communism doesn’t work because people are selfish and lazy. You can’t expect me to work hard, sweat, and get really sore and exhausted so the slow, weak, non-supporting member of society can reap the benefits. What has he done for me? But, when given the opportunity to CHOOSE to give to someone of need, I often do, because it makes me feel good. I just don’t give until it hurts my family’s health. Shared land worked due to the low population, but shared gain was a flop. The low population also allowed them to change their policies quickly and effectively to correct their mistakes. The Soviet Union didn’t do quite so well.
So why are we continually trying to turn our system into one of communism?
Lesson #2: You may be a city dweller, or a rural citizen, but we should all be prepared for rough times as these. We should know how to hunt, fish, trap, build, and much more. Half of the Separatist population died in the first year because they had no idea what they were doing. If you ever end up in a situation with minimal or no support, it would do you well to be self-sufficient. Heck, you may do it to yourself, and now you have to face the consequences.
Lesson #3: If hard times hit, it would be a good idea to have a small community, or neighborhood of “like-minded” people who can work to a common goal of sustainability and survival. This includes people that have needed skills, and those that are generous to help others.
HAVE A GREAT THANKSGIVING DAY!!!
As I write tips for your adventures and hear about cool gear, I will let you know all about it!