The first Pilgrims sailed from England in 1620 — seventy-two men and thirty women (eighteen of whom were adults). During the first winter in the New World, almost half died. Governor William Bradford found it necessary to ration corn; five kernels of corn per day per person.
When Captain Jones readied the Mayflower for its return to England, he invited the survivors to return with him. When he set sail on April 21, 1621, not one Pilgrim went with him. They all chose to stay, believing God had called them to the New World for a purpose.
Those earlier settlers prayed; and God sustained them. They found three cleared acres of land on which to farm. Samoset, an American Indian, came into their settlement and then introduced them to Tisquantum (Squanto) who taught the Pilgrims how to fish. He also taught them to use fish as fertilizer when planting corn so their crops would flourish. Squanto became their translator and mediator to Chief Massasoit. The Pilgrims made a treaty with the Indians: it lasted fifty years.
When the first harvest came, the Pilgrims and Indians celebrated together. Governor Bradford reminded the settlers of the five kernels of corn per day that had kept them alive that first brutal winter and encouraged them to think of five ways in which God had blessed them despite the hardship.
We have had other Thanksgivings since the one celebrated by the Pilgrims and Indians.
October 3, 1789, President George Washington made a Thanksgiving Proclamation: Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and to humbly implore his protection and favor. And whereas both Houses of Congress have, by 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. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be…
In the fall of 1863, during the most turbulent time in our nation’s history, President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving Day a national holiday.
Thanksgiving is still an attitude we greatly need to cultivate. What five blessings has God given you over the past year? Give thanks! God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.