A politically incorrect history of Thanksgiving

By Jonathan Falwell

It was a bitter two-month sea journey the Pilgrims endured on their passage from England to Plymouth Rock. Upon landing, they gathered for a prayer service before setting out to build shelter. They were severely unprepared for the harsh New England winter that was approaching.

After that winter of 1620 killed almost half of their population, the Pilgrims were befriended by members of the Wampanoag Tribe. The Indians taught the naive colonists about fishing, planting and hunting, thereby ensuring their survival. When the fall of 1621 began to set in, they had reaped a bountiful harvest and preserved enough food to allow them to survive the coming winter, thanks to their Indian neighbors.

As an expression of their thanks to God, the colonists hosted a three-day feast to celebrate the harvest and the transformation of their fortunes from the previous winter. This meal today is thought of as the first Thanksgiving.

In the years to come during the fall, the governor of each New England colony would declare a day of Thanksgiving so that the people could prayerfully thank God for supplying their needs.

In 1777, the Continental Congress decreed that all 13 colonies were to jointly celebrate victory over the British.

Twelve years later, the first national Thanksgiving occurred. In the Congressional Record for Sept. 25, 1789, Elias Boudinot issued a resolution stating: “Resolved, That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the president of the United States to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. …”

The resolution was delivered to President George Washington who wholly concurred with the request, declaring: “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 humbly to implore His protection and favor … Now, therefore, I do appoint Thursday, the 26th day of November 1789 . . . that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection.”

Days of Thanksgiving were celebrated on varying dates throughout the nation for the next several years. It was not until 1863, following the 30-year effort of Godey’s Lady’s Book editor Sarah Joseph Hale, that a National Day of Thanksgiving was declared.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared a National Day of Thanksgiving in hopes of bringing healing to a land that had suffered greatly in Civil War.

He set aside the last Thursday in November, declaring: “We often forget the Source from which the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies come. … No human wisdom hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God. … I therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States … to observe the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”

In 1941, Congress established the fourth Thursday of November as a national holiday.

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to understand the Judeo-Christian history of our nation. Our forefathers were not uneasy about openly thanking God for His blessings or beseeching Him in times of trouble. Our nation is deeply rooted in Christianity and candid expressions of faith.

I urge readers across the nation to ensure that their children and grandchildren understand the Judeo-Christian heritage of our nation. There are many who wish to ignore and/or rewrite our history as our nation further embraces secularism.

I am thankful for this nation and for the God of the Bible who shed His grace on us, beginning with the landing of the colonists at Plymouth Rock.

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