Thanksgiving Timeline, 1541 - 2001


In 1856, Puritan leader William Bradford's 1650 manuscript, "Of Plimoth Plantation," was published after being lost for about eighty years. The document briefly mentions the Plymouth colony's famous 1621 harvest celebration:

And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they took many, besids venison, &c. Besids they had aboute a peck a meale a weeke to a person, or now since harvest, Indean corne to yt proportion.

Another colonial publication, Mourt's Relation, was rediscovered in the 1820s and included Edward Winslow's detailed first-hand account of the feast:

[A]t which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst vs . . . with some nintie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed fiue Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed upon our Governour, and upon the Captaine, and others.

These documents fueled nineteenth-century interest in the Puritan colony and also influenced the eventual association of the colony with Thanksgiving Day.

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