Politically correct historical revisionists have long targeted the Pilgrims and Puritans, downplaying their sincere religious devotion and accusing them of everything from moral hypocrisy to acts of atrocity.
Recently I’ve noticed a new line of attack. In a public school American history textbook, several chapters are devoted to the Native Indian tribes, but only a two-sentence paragraph even mentions the Pilgrims. That’s one way to disassociate yourself with a Christian past you’d rather forget, just pretend it never happened.
Of course PC historians can’t entirely eliminate the Pilgrims from history because of our national tradition of Thanksgiving Day, which is forever tied to the story of the Pilgrims. So they did the next best thing.
That two-sentence paragraph about the Pilgrims explained that on the first Thanksgiving the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians.
There are only 2 primary sources that describe the first thanksgiving. William Bradford in Of Plymouth Plantation makes no mention of the Indians at all. Here’s Edward Winslow’s description from Mourt’s Relation:
“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 fruits 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 amongst 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 Pilgrims “entertained” the Indians, but there is no mention of bestowing thanks upon them. There is no question that the Pilgrims viewed good relations with the Indians as a tremendous blessing and I’m certain that they were thankful when the Indians killed 5 deer for the feast, but ultimately the Pilgrims attribute all that they have to the goodness of God.
Bradford’s journal is filled with praise and thanksgiving to God for every single trial and blessing that they experienced. And at that first feast of thanks the Pilgrims were especially grateful that God had preserved them throughout a harsh winter, illness and disease, and starvation caused by a failed attempt at communism. Over half of the Pilgrims died, and the survivors praised God.
This Thanksgiving Day let us all be mindful of the One to whom we give thanks. To God from whom all blessings flow.