Happy Thanksgiving! - Sarah Woodbury

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wales has a tradition of religious dissent, dating back to the Dark Ages (see my posts on the Pelagian Heresy and Religious Nonconformity in Wales). Welsh people took advantage of the opening up of the new world very early on, seeing an opportunity for religious, political, and economic freedom that had been closed to them in Britain for centuries. The captain of the Mayflower, Christopher Jones, was Welsh.

Puritanism did not flourish in Wales, however, and only small groups of dissenters ever got established. It may be that a significant percentage of Welsh Puritans, Quakers (later in the 17th century) and nonconformists came to the New World (which is one reason America proved so rebellious, since now the rebels were all congregated in one place).  Notable Welsh founding fathers include William Penn and Roger Williams early on, and later Thomas Jefferson, Sam and John Adams, Patrick Henry and Benjamin Franklin.

The American holiday of Thanksgiving officially celebrates the ‘first Thanksgiving’, after the pilgrims who had survived that first winter in Plymouth invited their Indian neighbors to dine.  Or so the story goes.

An audio discussion is available here:  http://www.plimoth.org/education/olc/index_js2.html

“The people who comprised the Plymouth Colony were a group of English Protestants who wanted to break away from the Church of England. These ‘separatists’ initially moved to Holland and after 12 years of financial problems, they received funding from English merchants to sail across the Atlantic to settle in a ‘New World.’ A ship full of 101 men, women and children spent 66 days traveling the Atlantic Ocean, intending to land where New York City is now located. Due to the windy conditions, the group had to cut their trip short and settle on what is now called Cape Cod.

Settling and Exploring
The Puritans knew that winter was coming and decided to gather provisions. They took anything they could find, including Wampanoag supplies. The Wampanoag kept a close watch on them and thought they were a disrespectful bunch for stealing all their goods.

One day, the settlers had a visit from Samoset, a leader from the Abenaki people, who brought Tisquantum (better known as Squanto) with him. Squanto was a Wampanoag man who had experience with other settlers and knew English. Squanto helped the settlers grow corn and use fish to fertilize their fields. After several meetings, a formal agreement was made between the English and the native people and they joined together to protect each other from other tribes in March of 1621.

The Celebration
One day that fall, four settlers were sent to hunt for food for a harvest celebration. The Wampanoag people heard their gunshots and alerted their leader, Massasoit, who thought the English might be preparing for war. Massasoit visited the English settlement with 90 of his men to see if the war rumor was true. Soon after their visit, the Native Americans realized the gunshots were harmless and that the English were only hunting for the harvest celebration. Massasoit sent some of his own men to hunt deer for the feast and for three days, the English and native men, women and children ate together. The meal consisted of deer, corn, shellfish, and roasted meat …”  http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/stories/history/first-thanksgiving/