The First Thanksgiving In Plymouth

Thanksgiving is a celebration of thanks.  See how the Pilgrims kicked off what would become a quintessential American tradition.

In 1620, 102 pilgrims and crew came from England on a voyage that took 66 days, on the Mayflower.  They landed in what is now called Plymouth Bay, on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, far from their original destination of Virginia where they had permission to land.  Food and supplies were low, so they landed at Plymouth.  They endured a difficult journey.  These members of an English Separatist Church, a Puritan sect, fled from religious persecution, and managed instead to survive the hardships of a new land.

Thanksgiving was a celebration the following year in the early autumn, of the surviving 53 Pilgrims and the native Wampanoag Indians, with which they peacefully coexisted.

There are only two primary sources for what transpired that first Thanksgiving in Plymouth.  The original writings as noted, and the modern spelling versions are located here.

Edward Winslow, Mourt’s Relation :
“our harvest being gotten in, our governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a speciall manner rejoyce together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labours ; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninetie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governour, and upon the Captaine and others. And although it be not always so plentifull, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plentie.”

William Bradford, Of Plimoth Plantation :
In the original 17th century spelling
“They begane now to gather in ye small harvest they had, and to fitte up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health & strenght, and had all things in good plenty; fFor as some were thus imployed in affairs abroad, others were excersised in fishing, aboute codd, & bass, & other fish, of which yey tooke good store, of which every family had their portion. All ye somer ther was no want. And now begane to come in store of foule, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they tooke many, besids venison, &c. Besids, they had about a peck a meale a weeke to a person, or now since harvest, Indean corn to yt proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largly of their plenty hear to their freinds in England, which were not fained, but true reports.”

Enjoy Thanksgiving.  Be grateful for you and yours.  Tough times by the Pilgrims give our tough times perspective.

Happy Thanksgiving.

“‘The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth’ by Jennie A. Brownscombe 1914.”
Image courtesy of


4 responses to “The First Thanksgiving In Plymouth

  1. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

    It is good to have one day in a year designated for the expression of gratefulness. We do not have one here in Malaysia. So wise of Abraham Lincoln!

    The world would be less chaotic, it would be a more peaceful place if each one of us has the awareness in him that there are plenty for which he should be thankful for.

    To remind myself of my good fortune, I have drawn up a list for my daily expression of giving thanks.

  2. I wish you and your family a very special Thanksgiving, my Quipster friend!

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