Thanksgiving in 1621

I’m sure we are all familiar with the traditional story of the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving in 1621.  The Pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony celebrated their successful harvest as was the English tradition.  However, it was a rather close call that the information about the first Thanksgiving made it back to England.

The Governor of the Pilgrims, William Bradford, had sent a letter to Thomas Weston who was the main financer for the Plymouth colony on a ship called Fortune.  The ship also carried 500 pounds worth of lumber, animal pelts, the amended charter for the Plymouth Plantation, letters from the settlers and the letter from Bradford.  Bradford’s letter detailed instructions for future colonists and a sales pitch to attract them.

However, on the return journey the Fortune was captured by French pirates in the English Channel.  While they pilfered the hold of all the goods, they did not take the charter or letters.  One of those letters contained the only account of the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving dinner.  When the letters did make it back to England, they were published in 1622 in a London newspaper, in what is now known as the Mourt’s Relation for the entire world to see.

Wasn’t that fortunate.

I was able to find all this information by locating an article by Frederic Scwarz using KDL’s Reference Resources for History.  I found the article in the InfoTrac U.S. History Collection.

Schwarz, Frederic D. “1621: the first Thanksgiving, sort of.” American Heritage Nov. 1996: 157. US History Collection. Web. 20 Nov. 2012.

 

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