To the editor, Ms. Lesnik in her story in the referenced edition of the Times-Gazette (Wednesday, Nov. 25), states that the first Thanksgiving took place in Massachusetts in 1621. Wrong! Below is a brief summary of the facts to state the historical truth that the first Thanksgiving took place in Virginia in 1619...
To the editor,
Ms. Lesnik in her story in the referenced edition of the Times-Gazette (Wednesday, Nov. 25), states that the first Thanksgiving took place in Massachusetts in 1621. Wrong!
Below is a brief summary of the facts to state the historical truth that the first Thanksgiving took place in Virginia in 1619.
Thank you for letting me present this information.
The first Thanksgiving was held in Virginia in 1619, two years before the pilgrims' Thanksgiving observance in Massachusetts. Facts are facts. see the following brief history. You can go on-line for more information.
It took a Massachusetts-born U.S. President — John F. Kennedy — to recognize that colonial Virginia had a day of Thanksgiving.
Kennedy pronounced in his official Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1963: “Over three centuries ago, our forefathers in Virginia and in Massachusetts, far from home in a lonely wilderness, set aside a time of thanksgiving. On the appointed day, they gave reverent thanks for their safety, for the health of their children, for the fertility of their fields, for the love which bound them together and for the faith which united them with their God.”
For more than a century, the three-day harvest festival among the Pilgrims and Wampanoag tribesmen, likely between September and mid-November 1621 in colonial Massachusetts, had been recognized as the nation’s first Thanksgiving.
However, in the decade prior to Kennedy’s 1963 proclamation, Virginians loudly declared that the first Thanksgiving in the New World was on the shores of the James River in 1619 and not in Massachusetts in 1621 near Plymouth Rock. But no one listened.
Descendants of those Virginia settlers who arrived at what is now Berkeley Plantation in Charles City County aboard the “good ship Margaret” claimed documentation proved “America’s first official Thanksgiving” in Virginia was nearly two years before Massachusetts’ harvest celebration.
On instructions from The London Co., when the settlers landed at Berkeley Hundred, ship Capt. John Woodlief, in a solemn religious observance, prayed: “
We ordaine that this day of our ships arrival, at the place assigned for plantacon, in the land of Virginia, shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving for Almighty God.”
The documentation was found among the Nibley Papers, a collection of papers and documents compiled by John Smyth, of Nibley, England, on the settlement of Virginia from 1613 to 1674. These papers were rediscovered in the New York Public Library in 1931 by Lyon G. Tyler, retired president of the College of William & Mary.
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