The History of Thanksgiving


Calley Baxter, Junior Staff Writer

Thanksgiving is a special day for everyone across America. It’s a day when we gather around our family and friends, and as the name suggests, give thanks for whom and what we have in our lives. The history of Thanksgiving is very interesting, as it began centuries ago.

In September of 1620, the Mayflower left England carrying passengers heading towards America. These passengers are now known as Pilgrims. They arrived in Cape Cod after a very long and treacherous journey. Since this was not their intended destination, they set sail again. The Pilgrims crossed Massachusetts Bay, and started to build a village at Plymouth. Shortly after their arrival, the Pilgrims encountered a very brutal winter. Throughout this winter disease spread, and half of the village did not make it to see spring. Once spring was well under way, the villagers received a visit from Samoset. Samoset was a leader of the Abenaki Native American tribe. Samoset brought Squanto with him, a member of the Wampanoag who could speak English. Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to grow corn, extract sap, catch fish, avoid poisonous plants, and to fertilize their land with fish. Without this knowledge the villagers would’ve never survived. Squanto also helped the Pilgrims form an alliance with the Wampanoag, his tribe. This alliance lasted more than 50 years.

In November of 1621, the Pilgrims’ first harvest turned very successful. Governor William Bradford organized a feast in celebration of this. He also invited their new Native American allies, since the Pilgrims owed most of their success to them. This celebratory feast is now known as America’s “first Thanksgiving”. For three days, the Pilgrims and the Indians ate and enjoyed festivities in peace. The Pilgrims had their second Thanksgiving in 1623.

During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated a few days a year for Thanksgiving.  In 1789 George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln finally made Thanksgiving a national holiday. He called on all of America to give thanks to God, and their nation on the last Thursday of November.

The Pilgrims never could’ve imagined that their celebratory feast would turn into a country’s annual tradition. Centuries after the Pilgrims had their first Thanksgiving, it’s still a big part of our lives. As the students of Hubbard High gear up to celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope they reserve “thanks” for the villagers who started our holiday.