There are only
two contemporary accounts of the 1621 Thanksgiving: First is Edward
Winslow's account, which he wrote in a letter dated December
The complete letter was first published in 1622, and is chapter 6 of
Mourt's Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth.
Our corn [i.e. wheat] did prove
well, and God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas
not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sown. They came up very well, and blossomed, but the
sun parched them in the blossom. Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we
might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day
killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other
recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king
Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five
deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although
it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want
that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.
The second description was written about twenty years after the fact
by William Bradford
in his History Of Plymouth Plantation.
Bradford's History was rediscovered in 1854 after having been taken by British looters during the Revolutionary
War. Its discovery prompted a greater American interest in the history of the Pilgrims, which eventually led to
Lincoln's decision to make Thanksgiving a holiday. It is also in this account that the Thanksgiving turkey tradition
They began now to gather in
the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in
health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others
were exercising in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family
had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached,
of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl
there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a
peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards
write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.
Choose a link below for more:
- • A brief history
• Contemporary accounts of the First Thanksgiving
• Some foods the Pilgrims did and did not have at their own Thanksgiving.
• Lyrics to
"Over the River and Through
• Thanksgiving recipes
• Thanksgiving HOME
• Holidays HOME