In September, 1620, the small ship, the Mayflower, carrying 102 passengers, dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, after 66 days at sea. Only half of the crew and original passengers survived the first winter.
"What's in the pot, Martha?"
"My favorite!! I hope we have enough. Chief
Massasoit said to expect nearly one hundred people from his Wampanaog tribe."
Cyrus Edwin Dallin's sculpture of Massasoit, on Cole's Hill, overlooking the site of Plymouth rock
"There will be enough."
"I don't, know, Martha. Squanto and his Pawtuxet friends may stop by too."
She raises the lids off pots of boiled pumpkin and berries and fish.
"There's enough William."
Governor Bradford tastes the berries, nods his approval. "Let's hope they bring something to drink."
Massasoit smoking a peace pipe with Governor John Carver in Plymouth, 1621
A second Thanksgiving celebration marks the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast.
New York, October 3, 1789
Two men sitting on the library steps reading the newspaper...
"I sure would liked to have heard President Washington read this proclamation. Never been one like it from the U.S. government."
"Read it to me, Lionel. You know I'm not as good as you at making out words."
Lionel clears his throat: 'Both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.'
"That sure is a mouthful, Lionel."
"A whole day, you say. When's that going to happen?"
Lionel scans the second paragraph. "Next month, Thursday, the 26th."
"You think we'll get the day off work?"
President Abraham Lincoln meets with Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale, magazine editor and prolific writer, (among countless other things, of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”)
(please note, this is a fictional conversation based on factual events....hmmm, sounds like the theme of some blog I recently read!)
The President: "The fact that you launched a campaign over 30 years ago to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday is highly impressive, Mrs. Hale." He thumbs through a thick collection of papers. "Editorials, letters to governors, senators, and my political predecessors." He smiles. "You, Mrs. Hale, are a very determined woman."
"Yes, Mr. President, I certainly am that. And have I persuaded you to consider proclaiming a national day of thanksgiving and praise?"
Another broad smile from the 16th president of the United States.
"Why, yes ma'am, you have. How does the last Thursday in November for this nation's first Thanksgiving Day sound to you?"
"I could not have asked for more, sir."
1939 - 76 years later
To spur retail sales during the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the U.S., moves the holiday up a week and in 1941 signed a bill making Thanksgiving Day the fourth Thursday in November.
Roosevelt and Britain's prime minister, Sir Winston Churchill aboard HMS Prince of Wales for the 1941 Atlantic Charter meeting.
What Thanksgiving Day family traditions are your favorite? I'd love to hear from people outside the U.S.A!