Thanksgiving 102


Photo via Public Domain Pictures under Creative Commons license.

Ben Gress

The History of Thanksgiving

               In September 1620, a ship called the Mayflower left England. This small ship carried 102 passengers and they were all trying to find religious freedom. They hit land but kept on going because it was far north of their destination.  A month later, they hit land again and set up camp in a place that is called Plymouth, Massachusetts. The first harsh winter forced all the settlers to their ship and ended up killing 51 out of the 102 members leaving only 50% percent of them to see spring.  After the harsh winter, all the remaining settlers went back to land. And to their surprise, a Native American greeted them in broken English; he brought another Native American to help. The two taught the Pilgrims survival skills such as making corn and how to catch fish. They also helped the Pilgrims form a bond with the Wampanoag; a native American tribe. The pilgrims wanted to celebrate with the Native Americans to show their bond. Governor William Bradford proposed a three day feast and invited Native Americans to join them. Chronicler Winslow wrote about how Thanksgiving happened, what they ate and who was at the celebration.

Thanksgiving– The Real Story?

Thanksgiving was all about Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Native Americans getting along and celebrating the harvest, right?  It was “Big Dinners” and making “friends forever” kind of evening? Well not so fast.  There are a lot of myths about Thanksgiving, but most of these have popped up in multiple sources that I found interesting. After the harsh winter, there’s a theory that states that the pilgrims stole food from Native Americans.  They could have just come asking for help with finding food. They weren’t really friends; they were just trying to survive. The only reason why they became so-called friends was because they were dying at a fast rate from starvation and disease and they wanted help. This prompted them to help each other. Finally, the last theory was that the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims actually had many deadly confrontations but this is just a myth that has been supposedly debunked since there are some known letters that have the details of Thanksgiving.  What do you think really happened during Thanksgiving?

On October 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln said in a speech that Thanksgiving was a national holiday set to take place on the last Thursday of November. Thanksgiving is usually known for the harvest and the Wampanoag Indians with the pilgrims, but actually this chosen day was about our independence in winning the Civil War although now most people just eat food instead of celebrating America and our independence.  This Thanksgiving will mark the 158th year of public Thanksgiving, and it would’ve been the 392nd year since the first Thanksgiving if it were established as a public holiday.   

PS: Thanksgiving 102 instead of 101? Because there were 102 pilgrims on the Mayflower.


Photo credit: ( Alysse D’Errico )