In the November of 1621, Edward Winslow, the former Governor of the Plymouth Colony, penned, in what would become the classic early American account, Mourt’s Relation: “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling (an archaic term for bird and game hunting), that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labor.”
With these humble words, Winslow gave us the first, firsthand account of Thanksgiving, a day of reverence for and celebration of a beautiful and brutal North America and its seemingly endless bounty. These pioneers were simply thankful to be alive and that first feast represents the first breakthrough in our collective and ongoing attempts to better understand our homeland.
As a national holiday, Thanksgiving got off to a rough start. Proclamations meant to establish an annual day of thanks from presidents Washington through Madison (though curiously not Jefferson) fell on deaf ears. It wasn’t until Lincoln, courtesy of an aggressive letter writing campaign by New Hampshire writer Sarah Hale, that Thanksgiving became a national holiday albeit amidst America’s most divisive period, the Civil War.
And since Lincoln, the history of Thanksgiving has continued much along the same lines as America’s: dates have been shifted, faces have changed, traditions have been added, traditions have been lost. Yet also like America, the spirit of Thanksgiving has remained the same, a spirit epitomized by the handsome abundance of the Pilgrim’s original menu: fish, ducks, geese, turkey, beans, squash, maize, pumpkin, berries, lobster, mussels, clams and what historians believe to be the true star of that first feast—venison. Looking at it now, it was a table of America surrounded by Americans. In this respect, little has changed since 1621. Hunters still walk the woods, they still return with a harvest to thankful relations and Americans rejoice what is truly worthy of thanks: food, family and harmony.
In honor of this, Guns.com would like to wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving.