The True Story of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving. An old story about America’s founding and its principles. Thanksgiving is a holiday to remind us to give thanks to God for providing for us. The original story shows how godly men with character overcame hardships through God’s providence and founded this great nation of ours.

Some people say that Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, and that the Pilgrims massacred thousands of Native Americans. Saying that we would slaughter Indians and then proceed to “kick their heads like soccer balls in the street.” The same people say that the pilgrims are also proud of their actions. This, as well as many other outlandish lies, is false. Often these articles were called something like “The REAL Story of Thanksgiving”. But, just because it’s a real story, doesn’t mean it’s a true story.

Unfortunately, the older history gets, the easier it is to change it. Instead of just stating or believing the lies, lets look at the facts. First of all, lets take a quick look at this claim of mass murder. In all of the articles that I read on this, no one quoted sources for their claims. Secondly, William Bradford — second governor of the Plymouth Plantation — in his book Of Plymouth Plantation gives eyewitness accounts of what happened to the Pilgrims in the new world (it can be found on Amazon, and Gutenberg Press.) He mentions friction between the Pilgrims and some Native American tribes (one tribe killed one of their leaders, scrimmages, etc.) but some tribes were friendly to them, and they were friendly back.

The genial Native American tribes shared techniques of survival, and the Pilgrims would share what innovation they had. But, no where in this eye witness account do they mention slaughtering Native Americans. In addition, William Bradford writes of the “remarkable longevity of principle of men among the Pilgrims.” Obviously they weren’t very likely to commit heinous crimes against Native Americans to say the least.

Probably the largest misunderstanding about Thanksgiving is the idea that it is a secular holiday. It’s quite the contrary.  Repeatedly in William Bradford’s writings, he give thanks to God. For example, during a three-month drought they were worried about their crops, Bradford writes,  “a solemn day of humiliation, to seek ye Lord by humble and fervent prayer, in this great distress.” The drought soon ended.

Not only were they prayerful Pilgrims, God answered their prayers as well. Bradford goes on to say, “which did so apparently revive the quicken ye decayed corn and other fruits, as was wonderful to see, and made ye Indians astonished to behold; and afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather, as, through his blessing caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing.” Through that, you can see that they also showed the Native Americans who God was.

Edward Winslow (a pilgrim) wrote to a friend describing the first Thanksgiving in an eyewitness account:

Our corn 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, among 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 upon 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.” -Edward Winslow, December 11, 1621, in A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth (Mourt’s Relation: A Relation or Journal of the English Plantation settled at Plymouth in New England, by certain English adventurers both merchants and others.) Dwight Heath, ed. New York: Corinth Books, 1963, p. 82.

Chairman and Founder of the Traditional Values Coalition Rev. Louis Sheldon said, “Thanksgiving Day is inextricably linked to our nation’s founding by Christians. The Pilgrims had come here to worship God in the way He had shown them. They came to serve God and to establish a government based upon biblical principles.”

Thanksgiving is, was, and always will be, a holiday that was to give thanks to God for providing for the Pilgrims. And it is now a yearly reminder for us to give thanks to God for providing for us. These lies are secular attempts to rip the great name of God out of our nation, our minds, and our history. And in the process of doing so, they don’t mind falsely criminalizing the Pilgrims. Never lose sight of the true story, and always search for the truth. As it says in Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

These brave, godly, founders of ours, risked their lives to create a new nation to escape the religious tyranny of England. It is a disgrace to see our founders insulted and demoralized. This Thanksgiving give thanks to God for your founders, and your freedom. Without the Pilgrims we would never have the U.S.A, we would never have one of the strongest and most free nations ever to exist. Thanksgiving is to thank God for providing.

-Ben

This piece was originally published on November 25, 2009.

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