The Truth Behind Thanksgiving…
It is always amusing to hear the story about Thanksgiving being about Pilgrims, maize, turkeys and Indians.
I guess it was pulled from the 1621 event in which the arrivals to the new world participated in a disastrous experiment of socialism that were filled with shortages and starvation. “at the end of the seven years, the capital and profits, the houses, lands, goods and chattels, be equally divided betwixt the ‘Adventurers’ and Planters..”
After two-years, the Pilgrims decided that a change was needed, so they decided to end the common goods experiment by giving every family a plot of land based upon their size, establishing private property rights in the colony.
Governor Bradford proclaimed the change to have created, “…very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been…”
The Pilgrims no longer resented going into the field because they got to keep the benefits of their labor. Bradford reports, “Instead of famine now God gave them plenty,” and that, “… the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God…. Any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.”
The picture of abundance that is associated with the first Thanksgiving is more appropriately assigned to the third one, when corn was plentiful and the people could look forward to a long winter with sufficient provisions produced through their own labor.
The reality is there was no national version of the holiday until the Civil War, and it has a lot to do with the woman who wrote “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” Sarah Josepha Hale.
She tried to convince state and federal officials to pass legislation creating a fixed, national day of thanks on the last Thursday of November. She believed that such a unifying measure could help ease growing tensions and divisions between the northern and southern parts of the country.
During the Civil War Hale had lobbied President Lincoln and wrote editorials that said to “put aside sectional feelings and local incidents” and rally around the unifying cause of Thanksgiving.
Abe Lincoln then wrote a proclamation at the behest of her and the fictional folklore was created.
“This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America’s national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders like this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.
The holiday we know today as Thanksgiving was recommended to Lincoln by Sarah Josepha Hale, a prominent magazine editor. Her letters to Lincoln urged him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”
According to an April 1, 1864 letter from John Nicolay, one of Lincoln’s secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. Fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary on October 3 that he complimented Seward on his work. A year later, the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops and since then has disappeared.”
From the beginnings in Plymouth to Lincoln and Hale’s attempt to mend a divided nation, we can trace the origins of the annual celebration of family, food and gratitude we know today.
2020 has been a tough year on many, from the pandemic to job loss or cut-back, to the tension-laden election. Just as in 1863, the country is once again divided though not between the north and south. This time it’s between people in the same community, the same state, and the same country.
Big Government has tried to prevent families from uniting in the name of safety. However, most of us know it is more about control. It is an Orwellian attempt to prevent us from gathering around that big table to discuss the current events that are direly affecting our nation.
This Thanksgiving as we meet with family either in person or virtually, remember it is to celebrate blessings from God. Remind everyone that while showing gratitude to your friends and others is a good thing, the real focus of Thanksgiving should be to our Father in heaven, the creator of all things.