Justice Kennedy is retiring. It was rumored; now it’s official. Pray for God to glorify His Name in His provision and power throughout the process! This will be a battle royal such as not seen since the nomination of Robert Bork. May the Lord have mercy on our nation and grant us grace we don’t deserve.
The bounty of 1621 was followed the next year by a poor harvest for the Pilgrims, and combined with other woes, that meant a hard winter in 1623 of cold and starvation. A good crop was desperately needed.
William Bradford recorded the events of that summer of 1623.
“I may not here omite how, notwithstand all their great paines and industrie, and the great hops of a large cropp, the Lord seemed to blast, and take away the same, and to threaten further and more sore famine unto them, by a great drought which continued from the 3. weeke in May, till about the midle of July, without any raine, and with great heat (for the most parte), insomuch as the corne begane to wither away, though it was set with fishe, the moysture wherof helped it much.
“Yet at length it begane to languish sore, and some of the drier grounds were partched like withered hay, part wherof was never recovered. Upon which they sett a parte a solemne day of humilliation, to seek the Lord by humble and fervente prayer, in this great distrese.”
Think about the context of that day, the privation and death and loss they had already suffered, and their utter dependence upon God for help and deliverance.
“And he was pleased to give them a gracious and speedy answer, both to thier owne and the Indeans admiration, that lived amongest them. For all the morning, and greatest part of the day, it was clear weather and very hotte, and not a cloud or any signe of raine I to be seen, yet toward evening it begane to overcast, and shortly after to raine, with shuch sweete and gentle showers, as gave them cause of rejoyceing, and blesing God.
“It came, without either wind, or thunder, or any violence, and by degreese in that abundance, as that the earth was thorowly wete and soked therwith. Which did so apparently revive and quicken the decayed come and other fruits, as was wonderfull to see, and made the Indeans astonished to behold; and afterwards the Lord sent them shuch seasonable showers, with enterchange of faire warme weather, as, through his blessing, caused a fruitfull and liberall harvest, to their no small comforte and rejoycing. For which mercie (in time conveniente) they also sett aparte a day of thanksgiveing.”
Edward Winslow gave this account:
“These and the like considerations moved not only every good man privately to enter into examination with his own estate between God and his conscience and so to humiliation before him but also more solemnly to humble ourselves together before the Lord by fasting and prayer. To that end a day was appointed by public authority and set apart from all other employments hoping that the same God which had stirred us up hereunto would be moved hereby in mercy to look down upon us and grant the request of our dejected souls if our continuance there might any way stand with his glory and our good.
“But O the mercy of our God who was as ready to hear as we to ask for though in the morning when we assembled together the heavens were as clear and the drought as like to continue as ever it was yet our exercise continuing some eight or nine hours before our departure the weather was overcast the clouds gathered together on all sides and on the next morning distilled such soft sweet and moderate showers of rain continuing some fourteen days and mixed with such seasonable weather as it was hard to say whether our withered corn or drooping affections were most quickened or revived such was the bounty and goodness of God.
“Of this the Indians by means of Hobbamock took notice who being then in the town and this exercise in the midst of the week said. It was but three days since Sunday and therefore demanded of a boy what was the reason thereof which when he knew and saw what effects followed thereupon he and all of them admired the goodness of our God towards us that wrought so great a change in so short a time showing the difference between their conjuration and our invocation on the name of God for rain theirs being mixed with such storms and tempests as sometimes instead of doing them good it layeth the corn flat on the ground to their prejudice but ours in so gentle and seasonable a manner as they never observed the like.
“Having these many signs of God’s favor and acceptation we thought it would be great ingratitude if secretly we should smother up the same or content ourselves with private thanksgiving for that which by private prayer could not be obtained. And therefore another solemn day was set apart and appointed for that end wherein we returned glory honor and praise with all thankfulness to our good God which dealt so graciously with us whose name for these and all other his mercies towards his church and chosen ones by them be blessed and praised now and evermore. Amen.”
Note that both the day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer, and the day of thanksgiving were appointed and set, not by the church, but by the governor.
After this day of thanksgiving—on the very next day —the ship Anne came in, bringing many of those from Leyden who had been left behind when the Mayflower sailed in 1620. What joy and excitement they must have had in this added blessing, and what gratitude for God’s providential timing!
This was the Pilgrims’ first thanksgiving.
Of Plymouth Plantation, An Electronic Edition, William Bradford 1590-1657 (232). Original Source: Bradford’s History of Plymouth Plantation, 1606-1646. Ed. William T. Davis. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1908. Copyright 2003. This text is freely available provided the text is distributed with the header information provided.
Edward Winslow and William Love references via Wikipedia from The fast and thanksgiving days of New England” By William DeLoss Love, Houghton, Mifflin and Co., Cambridge, 1895. Books.google.com. Jan 28, 2009. Retrieved 11-20-2012. I’ve added paragraph breaks in all quotes for easier reading. After analyzing the accounts of that time William Love believes July 16, 1623 was the day of fasting and prayer, and July 30, 1623, the day of thanksgiving, “It is also noticed that these days were appointed by public authority that is by an order from the governor as the civil magistrate. We believe they were the first so ordered in New England. Certainly we have no record of any earlier.”
Rain on grass, adrian.benko: GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
These silhouettes give a stark illustration of that first harsh and tragic year in the New World. Husbands, wives, children, friends, and servants—entire families were wiped out. The names of those who never saw that first harvest festival are highlighted in red. Consider their endurance, their perseverance, and their dependence on God for strength and grace in the worst of circumstances.
“Let the Lord have the praise Who is the High Preserver of men.”William Bradford
William Bradford’s account of the Mayflower passengers:
“The names of those who came over first in the Mayflower in the year 1620 and were by the blessing of God the first beginners and founders of the Settlements and Colonies of New England with their families written down A.D. 1650.
JOHN CARVER; Katherine his wife; DESIRE MINTER; two men servants JOHN HOWLAND and ROGER WILDER; a boy WILLIAM LATHAM; a maid servant; a child who was put under his charge called JASPER MORE. Mr and Mrs Carver, Wilder, and Jasper More all died here during the first general sickness. Desire Minter returned to England. Latham stayed twenty years and then returned. the maid servant married here and died a year or two after. Howland married Elizabeth Tillie. Both are living .They had ten children.
WILLIAM BREWSTER; Mary his wife; two sons Love and Wrestling; a boy in his charge called Richard More; and another of his brothers [sic: sister Mary]. The rest of his children were left behind and came over afterwards. Mr Brewster lived here 23 or 24 years being about 80 when he died. His wife died some time before Wrestling died unmarried. Love had four children and died in 1650. The eldest son who came after had nine children and is still living and the daughters who came with him married and are dead. The brother [sic] of Richard More died the first winter. Richard married and has four or five children.
EDWARD WINSLOW; Elizabeth his wife; two men servants GEORGE SOWLE and ELIAS STORY;a little girl in his charge ELLEN sister of Richard More. Mr Winslow’s wife died the first winter. He married later the widow of Mr White and has two children living. Story and Ellen More died soon after the ship’s arrival. George Sowle is living and has eight children.
WILLIAM BRADFORD Dorothy his wife. Their only child a son was left behind and came over after. Mrs Bradford died soon after their arrival. Mr Bradford married again and had four children.
ISAAC ALLERTON Mary his wife three children Bartholomew Remember and Mary a servant boy JOHN HOOK. Mrs Allerton and the boy Hook died in the first general sickness. Bartholomew married in England His daughter Remember married at Salem and has three or four children living Mary married here and has four children Mr Allerton married secondly a daughter of William Brewster and had one son he married a third time and left this place long ago
SAMUEL FULLER; a servant WILLIAM BUTTON. His wife and a child were left behind and came over afterwards. Two more children were born here and are living. Button died at sea. Mr Fuller died 15 years ago.
JOHN CRACKSTON; his son John. John Crackston died in the first sickness. His son died 5 or 6 years after he lost himself in the woods in winter and his feet were frozen which brought on fever.
MYLES STANDISH; Rose his wife. Mrs Standish died in the first sickness. Captain Standish married again and has four sons living.
CHRISTOPHER MARTIN; his wife; two servants SOLOMON PROWER and JOHN LANGMORE. All these died in the first sickness soon after their arrival.
WILLIAM MULLINS; his wife; two children Joseph and Priscilla; a servant ROBERT CARTER. All but Priscilla died in the first sickness. She married John Alden both are living. They have eleven children.
WILLIAM WHITE; Susanna his wife; one son Resolved; and one born aboard ship called Peregrine; two servants WILLIAM HOLBECK and EDWARD THOMSON. Mr White and his two servants died soon after their landing. His widow married Mr Winslow. His two sons are living.
STEPHEN HOPKINS; Elizabeth his wife; two children by a former wife Giles and Constanta and two by this wife Damaris and Oceanus the latter born on the voyage two servants. EDWARD DOTY and EDWARD LISTER. Mr and Mrs Hopkins lived here over twenty years and had one son and four daughters born here. Doty is living and has seven children by a second wife Lister went to Virginia and died there
RICHARD WARREN. His wife and four daughters were left behind and came afterwards and two more were born here. Mr Warren lived some four or five years here.
JOHN BILLINGTON; Ellen his wife; two sons John and Francis/ Billington was executed after he had been here ten years/ His eldest son died before him/ his second is married.
EDWARD TILLIE; Anne his wife; two children (their cousins) HENRY SAMSON and HUMILITY COOPER. Mr and Mrs Edward Tillie died soon after their arrival. Humility Cooper returned to England and died there. Henry Samson is living and has seven children.
JOHN TILLIE; his wife; their daughter Elizabeth. Mr and Mrs John Tillie died soon after their arrival. Elizabeth married John Howland (see above).
FRANCIS COOK; his son John. Mrs Cook and other children came over afterwards. Three more children were born her. His son John is married. Mr Cook is a very old rruii and has seen his children’s children have children.
THOMAS ROGERS; Joseph his son. Mr Rogers died in the first sickness. His son Joseph is living and has six children. The rest of his children came over afterwards and are married and have many children.
THOMAS TINKER; his wife; their son. All died in the first sickness.
JOHN RIGDALE; Alice, his wife. Both died in the first sickness.
JAMES CHILTON; his wife; their daughter Mary. Another daughter who was married came after. Mr and Mrs Chilton died in the first sickness. Mary Chilton married and has nine children.
EDWARD FULLER; his wife; their son Samuel. Mr and Mrs Fuller died soon after they came ashore. Samuel Fuller is living and has four children or more.
JOHN TURNER; two sons. All died in the first sickness. His daughter came some years after to Salem and is married.
FRANCIS EATON; Sarah his wife; their baby Samuel. Mrs Eaton died in the general sickness. Mr Eaton married a second and third time having three children by his third wife. Samuel is married and has a child.
MOSES FLETCHER; JOHN GOODMAN; THOMAS WILLIAMS; DIGERIE PRIEST; EDMUND MARGESON; RICHARD BRITTERIDGE; RICHARD CLARK; RICHARD GARDNER; PETER BROWN; GILBERT WINSLOW. The first seven died in the general sickness. Digerie Priest’s wife and children came afterwards she being Mrs Allerton’s sister. Gardner became a sailor and died in England or at sea. Peter Brown married twice leaving four children he died about sixteen years since. Gilbert Winslow after several years here returned to England and died there.
JOHN ALDEN. Mr Alden was hired at Southampton as a cooper. Being a likely young man he was desirable as a settler but it was left to his own choice to stay here or return to England. he stayed and married Priscilla Mullins see above
JOHN ALLERTON; THOMAS ENGLISH; WILLIAM TREVOR; and one ELY. The first two were hired as sailors the one to stay here with the shallop the other to go back and help over those left behind but both died here before the Mayflower returned The last two were hired to stay here a year both returned when their time was out
Of these 100 or so of persons who came over first more than half died in the first general sickness. Of those that remained some were too old to have children. Nevertheless in those thirty years there have sprung up from that stock over 160 persons now living in this year 1650 and of the old stock itself nearly thirty persons still survive. Let the Lord have the praise Who is the High Preserver of men.“
List from Bradford’s History of the Plymouth Settlement 1608 1650. Rendered into Modern English by HAROLD PAGET (E. P. Dutton & Company, New York NY:1920) 340–344.
I saw the image of the silhouettes on facebook. After searching, I believe I think someone photographed his copy of the poster found at http://www.pilgrimhall.org/shop.htm
The Pilgrim’s arrival at Cape Cod in November 1620 was followed by a winter of sickness and death. In spring came deliverance and help, and then summer and autumn’s bounty.
…they fell upon their knees and bless the God of heaven…
Winter 1621 (Julian Calendar 1620*):
“But that which was most sadd and lamentable was, that in 2. or 3. moneths time half e of their company dyed, espetialy in Jan : and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvie and other diseases, which this long vioage and their inacomodate condition had brought upon them; so as ther dyed some times 2. or 3. of a day, in the foresaid time; that of 100. and odd persons, scarce 50. remained., And of these in the time of most distres, ther was but 6. or 7. sound persons, who, to their great comendations be it spoken, spared no pains, night nor day, but with abundante of toyle and hazard of their owne health, fetched them woode, made them fires, drest them meat, made their beads, washed their lothsome cloaths, cloathed and uncloathed them; in a word, did all the homly and necessarie offices for them which dainty and quesie stomacks cannot endure to hear named; and all this willingly and cherfully, without any grudging in the least, shewing herein their true love unto their freinds and bretheren.”
…shewing herein their true love unto their freinds and bretheren…
“. . . Squanto continued with them, and was their interpreter, and was a spetiall instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation. He directed them how to set their carne, wher to take fish, and to procure other comodities, and was also their pilott to bring them to unknowne places for their profitt, and never left them till he dyed.
“. . . The spring approaching, it pleased God the mortalitie begane to cease amongst them, and the sick and lame recovered apace, which put as it were new life into them; though they had borne their sadd affiiction with much patience and contentednes, as I thinke any people could doe. But it was the Lord which upheld them, and had beforehand prepared them; many having long borne the yoke, yea from their youth.”
…it was the Lord which upheld them…
Early autumn 1621:
“They begane now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fitte up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strenght, and had all things in good plenty; for as some were thus imployed in affairs abroad, others were excersised in fishing, aboute codd, and bass, and other fish, of which they tooke good store, of which every family had their portion. All the sommer ther was no wante. And now begane to come in store of foule, as winter aproached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they tooke many, besids venison, etc. Besids they had aboute a peck a meale a weeke to a person, or now since harvest, Indean coree tb that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largly of their plenty hear to their freinds in England, which were not fained, but true reports.”
“Our harvest being gotten in our Governour sent foure men on fowling that so we might after a more speciall manner reioyce together after we had gathered the fruit of our labours. they foure in one day killed as much fowle as with a little helpe beside served the Company almost a weeke. at which time amongst other Recreations we exercised our Armes. many of the Indians coming amongst vs and amongst the rest their greatest King Massasoyt with some ninetie 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 on our Governour and vpon the Captaine and others. And although it be not alwayes so plentiful as it was at this tune with vs yet by the goodnesse of God we are so farre from want that we often wish you partakers of our plentie.”
…by the goodnesse of God we are so farre from want that we often wish you partakers of our plentie…
William Bradford closed his chapter describing their safe arrival at Cape Codd by saying:
“May not and ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: Our faithers were Englishmen which come over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this willdernes; but they cried unto the Lord, and he heard their voyce, and looked on their adversitie, etc. Let them therfore praise the Lord, because he is good, and his mercies endure for ever. Yea, let them which have been redeemed of the Lord, shew how he hath delivered them from the hand of the oppressour. When they wandered in the deserte willdernes out of the way, and found no citie to dwell in, both hungrie, and thirstie, their sowle vas overwhelmed in them. Let them confes before the Lord his loving kindnes, and his wonderfull works before the sons of men.“
*Before 1752 the English used the Julian calendar with the new year beginning on March 25. You’ll notice this if you read William Bradford’s Of Plimoth Plantation. I’ve added the Julian year in the 1621 winter reference.
Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor, William Halsall: PD-US.
The First Thanksgiving, Jean Leon Gerome Ferris: PD-US. This is the artist’s rendition of this 1621 harvest festival. The first civil appointment of a day set aside for thanksgiving was in 1623.
Of Plymouth Plantation, An Electronic Edition, William Bradford 1590-1657 (125; 134; 143, 152; 162; 125). Original Source: Bradford’s History of Plymouth Plantation, 1606-1646. Ed. William T. Davis. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1908. Copyright 2003. This text is freely available provided the text is distributed with the header information provided.
Edward Winslow and William Love references via Wikipedia from The fast and thanksgiving days of New England” By William DeLoss Love, Houghton, Mifflin and Co., Cambridge, 1895. Books.google.com. Jan 28, 2009 971–72). Retrieved 11-21-2012.
Embarkation of the Pilgrims by Robert Weir is one of eight massive 12 by 18 feet historic paintings seen in the United States Capitol Rotunda.
“This painting depicts the Pilgrims on the deck of the ship Speedwell on July 22, 1620, before they departed from Delfs Haven, Holland, for North America, where they sought religious freedom. They first sailed to Southampton, England, to join the Mayflower, which was also making the voyage. After leaks forced the Speedwell to make additional stops in Dartmouth and then Plymouth, its passengers boarded the Mayflower. Five months later the Pilgrims settled the Plymouth Colony in present-day Massachusetts.
“The group appears solemn and contemplative of what they are about to undertake as they pray for divine protection through their voyage; the words “God with us” appear on the sail in the upper left corner. The figures at the center of the composition are William Brewster, holding the Bible; Governor Carver, kneeling with head bowed and hat in hand; and pastor John Robinson, with extended arms, looking Heavenward. Gathered around them are the men, women, and children going on the voyage. Some are dressed in traditional puritan attire while others wear more fanciful and bright garments. The armor, helmet, and musket in the foreground represent the tools that the Pilgrims will use for protection in the new and unfamiliar land. In the background on the right are the city and people the Pilgrims leave, and on the left a rainbow represents the hope and promise of what lies ahead.”
This description is from Architect of the Capitol website. Click on the image to enlarge.