The Real Story of the First Thanksgiving
I came across this article detailing the real story of the first Thanksgiving and thought it was worth sharing. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday. (Following article courtesy of Deepak Chopra.)
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
~ Albert Schweitzer
Just a few years ago, a little known account of the first Thanksgiving, written by founding father Benjamin Franklin in 1785, was published in The Compleated Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, edited by Mark Skousen.
As Franklin described, the first settlers in New England faced many hardships and brutal winters as they struggled to survive and establish themselves. They developed a tradition of setting aside many days of fasting and prayer, beseeching God to take care of their many lacks and woes. “Being so piously dispos’d, they sought relief from heaven by laying their wants and distresses before the Lord in frequent set days of fasting and prayer. Constant meditation and discourse on these subjects kept their minds gloomy and discontented,” Franklin writes.
At an assembly gathered to proclaim yet another fast, a farmer “of plain sense” stood up and suggested that instead of “wearying heaven with their complaints,” they proclaim a thanksgiving and offer gratitude for the many blessings they’d already received – the rivers full of fish, the sweet air, the healthy climate, and, above all – the gift of civil and religious freedom. Focusing on gratitude, the farmer observed, would help them feel better and would lead to greater happiness. The assembly took his advice, and every year since, Thanksgiving has been celebrated in the U.S. and Canada.
Franklin’s observations about the economy and the country’s mood in the 18th-century are relevant in today’s climate of shift and uncertainty: “I saw in the public papers of different states frequent complaints of hard times, deadness of trade, scarcity of money, etc. It was not my intention to assert or maintain that these complaints are entirely without foundation; there can be no country or nation existing in which there will not be some people so circumstanc’d as to find it hard to gain a livelihood, people who are not in the way of any profitable trade, and with whom money is scarce because they have nothing to give in exchange for it. And it is always in the power of a small number to make a great clamour. But let us take a cool view of the general state of our affairs, and perhaps the prospect will appear less gloomy than has been imagined.”