Giving Thanks

For some of you giving thanks to God on Thanksgiving Day will be easy because of the abundance of His blessings you’ve known this past year. For others gratitude that’s not just lip service, but a real expression of your heart, is difficult because of grievous calamities or grinding stress.

Giving thanks frequently receives short shrift when we talk about it, because we tend to discuss it either superficially when we are at ease in our circumstances or else in denial of the pain of our difficulties. We give moralizing lectures about it or sometimes present the idea of giving thanks to God as a sort of magic charm.

In our shallow treatment we skate over the reality of life in a fallen world and fail to acknowledge that sometimes in our giving of thanks to God we hold on to God in faith in His character and care for us in the midst of our griefs. Gratitude gives us insight into our understanding of life, of other people, of ourselves, and of God. Even Cicero of pagan Rome recognized its importance and said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”1

Giving thanks is the antithesis of Romans 1:21. It’s intriguing to me that the long litany of sins in that chapter has its root in these words:

“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

Look at the Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day signed by Abraham Lincoln on March 30, 1863:

“And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

“It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”

In the midst of the Civil War what does this Proclamation declare to be the sins of the nation? Ingratitude and pride. The Proclamation’s call for humility, confession, and prayer is because of these sins of presumption.

Have you ever thought about the humility, dependency, and trust in God necessary to truly be thankful? Giving thanks calls us to understand and recognize that which we do not have except by God’s mercy and grace. We so easily succumb to presumptuous sins.

Giving thanks is the fruit of faith in God. He does not mock us in affliction by demanding our thanks for pain. He calls us to trust Him when we are caught up in the inscrutability of suffering and to live in gratitude for what He has given to us.

On Thanksgiving Day honor God as God and give thanks. And as you pray, remember our nation. As never before we are rife with ingratitude and pride. We need humility, confession of sin, and prayer for forgiveness.

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

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Waiting: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1Robert A. Emmons, Thanks! (Houghton Mifflin Company, New York NY:2007) 15.
Dr. Emmons is not a Christian and I have my points of disagreement with him, but his book contains careful research and profound thinking on gratitude.

Sweete And Gentle Showers

Our Thanksgiving holiday is modeled after the Pilgrims’ harvest celebration of 1621. The first thanksgiving of the Pilgrims, however, took place in summer of 1623, and was proceeded two weeks earlier by a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer. Both days were appointed and set, not by the church, but by the governor. William Bradford recorded the events of that summer.

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 come 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 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.

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! 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.

In his article, National Days of Prayer: A Historical Comparison, Dr. John S. Uebersax makes this significant observation:

Since 1952, the President of the United States has, by law, annually issued a proclamation recommending a National Day of Prayer. This seeks to revive a similar practice that emerged in Revolutionary times, and again in the Civil War. The modern proclamations, however, differ in important ways from the earlier ones. The main difference is evident in the change of titles — from the earlier ‘Day of Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer’ to the modern ‘National Day of Prayer.’ The earlier proclamations emphasized humiliation — understood as including a deep conviction of God’s Providential sovereignty in all things, recognition that calamities may express God’s chastisements, expression of guilt, sorrow for sins, and earnest pledge for reformation.

Dr. Uebersax opened his article with Jonah 3:5, the response of the Ninevites when they heard of the impending judgment of God.

Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast.
Jonah 3:5

If you’re familiar with the book of Jonah, then you know the result:

When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.
Jonah 3:10

May we remember their example, and in days of dire distress, when we are Living Amongst the Lions, may we turn to God in humiliation, fasting, and prayer.
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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.
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.

Corn, Capitalism, & Compassion

The harvest festival of 1621 was followed in 1622 by a poor harvest for the Pilgrims, and combined with other woes that meant a hard winter of cold and starvation. In 1623, William Bradford wrote:

“So they begane to thinke how they might raise as much corne as they could, and obtain a beter crope than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in miserie….”

Edward Winslow had this account of their diagnosis of the problem and their proposed solution:

“This month of April [1623] being now come, on all hands, we began to prepare for corn. And because there was no corn left before this time, save that was preserved for seed; being also hopeless of relief by Supply: we thought best to leave off all other works, and prosecuted that, as most necessary.

“And because there was so small hope of doing good in that common course of labor that formerly we were in . . . Especially considering that self-love; wherewith every man, in a measure more or less, loveth and preferreth his own good before his neighbours’: and also the base disposition of some drones that as at other times so now especially, would be most burdenous to the rest. It was therefore thought best, That every man should use the best diligence he could, for his own preservation, both in respect of the time present, and to prepare his own corn for the year following: and bring in a competent portion for the maintenance of Public Officers, Fishermen, &c.; which could not be freed from their Cally, without greater inconveniences. . . .

“At a General Meeting of the Company, many courses were propounded: but this approved and followed, as being the most likely for the present and good of the Company; and therefore before this month, began to prepare our ground against seed time.

“In the midst of April, we began to set, the weather being then seasonable: which much incouraged us, giving us good hopes of after plenty. The setting season is good till the latter end of May.”

And so ended their communal raising of crops. Upon assignment of land to each family, the Plymouth Colony began years of prosperity. The benefits were evident and undeniable. Bradford commented:

“This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corne was planted then other waise would have bene by any means the Govr or any other could use, and saved him a great deall of trouble, and gave farr better contente.”

In “What the Bible Teaches About Capitalism,” Rabbi Aryeh Spero had some insightful statements on the impact our religious heritage has had on America’s prosperity. I don’t agree with all he writes, but he has some things to say that are important to remember. After mentioning the Bible’s valuation of work and its benefits, he writes:

“The Bible is not a business-school manual. While it is comfortable with wealth creation and the need for speculation in economic markets, it has nothing to say about financial instruments and models such as private equity, hedge funds or other forms of monetary capitalization. What it does demand is honesty, fair weights and measures, respect for a borrower’s collateral, timely payments of wages, resisting usury, and empathy for those injured by life’s misfortunes and charity.”

These concerns of the Bible are in regard to how we work and how we treat our fellow man in need. These are qualities of character. Spero nails the “religious” left, who, in my opinion, isn’t very religious, but merely cherry-picks and distorts various Bible passages for its own end. He comments:

“Many on the religious left criticize capitalism because all do not end up monetarily equal—or, as Churchill quipped, “all equally miserable.” But the Bible’s prescription of equality means equality under the law, as in Deuteronomy’s saying that “Judges and officers…shall judge the people with a just judgment: Do not…favor one over the other.” Nowhere does the Bible refer to a utopian equality that is contrary to human nature and has never been achieved.”

The “religious” left at times attempts to justify socialism by dragging out verses from the fourth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts on early Christians having all things in common and giving their land sale proceeds to the apostles for the care of the needy. Their actions, however, proceeded from their hearts, and it’s clear these acts were done voluntarily and without compulsion. It was not an endorsement of socialism.  In Acts 5 Peter’s condemnation of a couple was because they lied to God, not for refusing to sell and give what was theirs. Peter said:

“While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
Acts 5:4

Spero states:

“The motive of capitalism’s detractors is a quest for their own power and an envy of those who have more money. But envy is a cardinal sin and something that ought not to be.

“God begins the Ten Commandments with “I am the Lord your God” and concludes with “Thou shalt not envy your neighbor, not for his wife, nor his house, nor for any of his holdings.” Envy is corrosive to the individual and to those societies that embrace it. Nations that throw over capitalism for socialism have made an immoral choice.”

William Bradford left us this commentary on the folly of socialism:

“The experience that was had in this commone course and condition, tried sundrie years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanitie of that conceite of Platos and other ancients, applauded by some of later times; -that the taking away of propertie, and bringing in communitie into a comone wealth, would make them happy and florishing; as if they were wiser then God. For this comunitie (so farr as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much imployment that would have been to their benefite and comforte.

“. . . Upon the poynte all being to have alike, and all to doe alike, they thought themselves in the like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut of those relations that God hath set amongest men, yet it did at least much diminish and take of the mutuall respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have bene worse if they had been men of another condition. Let none objecte this is mens corruption, and nothing to the course it selfe. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in his wisdome saw another course fiter for them.”

The Apostle Paul’s comment that “the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil” cuts across economic systems and reveals the problem. The problem is the heart of man. Coercion by government does not change the heart, and a nation’s beneficial prosperity is not a work of government. The Bible’s commands regarding hard work and sound ethics, its condemnation of dishonesty and selfishness, and its instructions for compassion and care of the needy indicate God’s concern is with the heart. This biblical understanding of work and life found in the earliest days of our country laid the groundwork for a beneficial prosperity that by God’s grace yet lingers on in America.
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Edward Winslow, Good News From New England, in The Story of The Pilgrim Fathers, 1606-1623 A.D.; as told by Themselves, their Friends, and their Enemies, Edward Arber, ed. (Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston MA: 1897) 575–577.
Of Plymouth Plantation, An Electronic Edition, William Bradford 1590-1657 (216–217). 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.
Via Jim Hoft: Aryeh Spero, “What the Bible Teaches About Capitalism,” The Wall Street Journal, January 30, 2012.

The Mayflower Passengers

The silhouettes below give a stark illustration of that first harsh and tragic year. 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.
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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

1621: The First Harvest Festival

Consider their first few years: the Pilgrim’s arrival at Cape Cod in November 1620, and the desolation and then deliverance of the following winter, spring and autumn in 1621.

November 1620:

Being thus arived in a good harbor
and brought safe to land, they fell
upon their knees and blessed the
God of heaven, who had brought them
over the vast and furious and ocean,
delivered them from all the periles and
miseries therof, againe to set their
feete on the firme and stable earth, their
proper elemente. . . .Being thus passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before
in their preparation (as may be remembred by that which vente before), they had
now no freinds to wellcome them, nor inns to entertaine or refresh their weatherbeaten
bodys, no houses or much less townes to repaire too, to seeke for succoure.

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.

Spring 1621:

. . . 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.

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.

Account from Mourt’s Relation:

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.

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.

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*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.
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.