November 25, 2010

Thankfulness, Part 4

What about the first Thanksgiving?  They know it was in October of 1621 at Plymouth (according to my quick research this morning). I was curious about the primary sources that refer to the actual event.  Apparently, according to an article on Suite 101, there are only two sources that refer to the event: a letter from written by settler Edward Winslow and the famous Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford. I thought today would be a good day to read about the original from the original.  So here is text from Bradford's history for the year 1621 (source Early Americas Digital Archive). (I'm not sure exactly which part of the text refers to Thanksgiving.)

Anno. 1621

THEY now begane to dispatch the ship away which bronght them over, which lay tille aboute this time, or the begining of Aprill. The reason on their parts why she stayed so long, was the necessitie and danger that lay upon them, for it was well towards the ende of Desember before she could land any thing hear, or they able to receive any thing ashore. Afterwards, the 14. of Jan: the house which they had made for a generall randevoze by casulty fell afire, and some were faine to retire abord for shilter. Then the sicknes begane to fall sore amongst them, and the weather so bad as they could not make much sooner any dispatch. Againe, the Govr and cheefe of them, seeing so many dye, and fall downe sick dayly, thought it it no wisdom to send away the ship, their condition considerad, and the danger they stood in from the Indeans, till they could procure some shelter; and therfore thought it better to draw some more charge upon them selves and freinds, then hazard all. The mr and sea-men likewise, though before they hasted the passengers a shore to be goone, now many of their men being dead, and of the ablest of them, (as is before noted,) and of the rest many lay sick and weake, the mr durst not put to sea, till he saw his men begine to recover, and the hart of winter over.

Afterwards they (as many as were able) began to plant ther torne, in which servise Squanto stood them in great stead, showing them both the manar how to set it, and after how to dress and tend it. Also he tould them excepte they gott fish and set with it (in these old grounds) it would come to nothing, and he showed them that in the midle of Aprill they should have store enough come up the brooke, by which they begane to build, and taught them how to take it, and wher to get other provissions necessary for them; all which they found true by triall and experience. Some English seed they sew, as wheat and pease, but it came not to good, eather by the badnes of the seed, or latenes of the season, or both, or some other defecte.

In this month of Aprill whilst they were bussie about their seed, their Govr (Mr. John Carver) came out of the feild very sick, it being a hott day; he complained greatly of his head, and lay downe, and within a few howers his sences failed, so as he never spake more till he dyed, which was within a few days after. Whoss death was much lamented, and caused great heavines amongst them, as ther was cause. He was buried in the best maner they could, with some vollies of shott by all that bore armes; and his wife, being a weak woman, dyed within 5. or 6. weeks after him.

Shortly after William Bradford was chosen Gover in his stead, and being not yet recoverd of his ilnes, in which he had been near the point of death, Isaak Allerton was chosen to be an Asistante unto him, who, by renewed election every year, continued sundry years togeather, which I hear note tmc'co for all.

May 12. was the first mariage in this place,which, according to the laudable custome of the Low-Cuntries, in which they had lived, was thought most requisite to be performed by the magistrate, as being a civill thing, upon which many questions aboute inheritances doe depende, with other things most proper to their cognizans, and most consonante to the scripturs, Ruth4. and no wher found in the gospell to be layed on the ministers as a part of their office. "This decree or law about mariage was published by the Stats of the Low-Cuntries Ano : 1590. That those of any religion, after lawfull and open publication, coming before the magistrats, in the Town or Stat-house, were to be orderly (by them) maried one to another." Petets Hist. fol: 1029. And this practiss hath continued amongst, not only them, but hath been followed by all the famous churches of Christ in these parts to this time,-Ano : 1646.

Haveing in some sorte ordered their bussines at home, it was thought meete to send some abroad to see their new freind Massasoyet,and to bestow upon him some gratuitie to bind him the faster unto them; as also that hearby they might veiw the countrie, and see in what maner he lived, what strength he had aboute him, and how the ways were to his place, if at any time they should have occasion. So the 2. of July they sente Mr. Edward Winslowand Mr. Hopkins, with the foresaid Squanto for ther guid, who gave him a suite of cloaths, and a horsemans coate, with some other small things, which were kindly accepted; but they found but short commons, and carne both weary and hungrie home. For the Indeans used then to have nothing so much torne as they have since the English have stored them with their hows,l and seene their industrie in breaking up new grounds therwith. They found his place to be 40. miles from hence, the soyle good, and the people not many, being dead and abundantly wasted in the late great mortalitie which fell in all three parts aboute three years before the coming of the English,wherin thousands of them dyed, they not being able to burie one another; ther sculs and bones were found in many places lying still above ground, where their houses and dwellings had been; a very sad spectackle to behould. But they brought word that the Narighansets lived but on the other side of that great bay, and were a strong people, and many in number, living compacte togeather, and had not been at all touched with this wasting plague.

Aboute the later end of this month, one John Billington lost him selfe in the woods, and wandered up and downe some 5. days, living on beries and what he could find. At length he light on an Indean plantation, 20. mils south of this place, called Manamet, they conveid him furder of, to Nawsett, among those peopl that had before set upon the English when they were costing, whilest the ship lay at the Cape, as is before noted. But the Gover caused him to be enquired for among the Indeans, and at length Massassoyt sent word wher he was, and the Gover sent a shalop for him, and had him delivered. Those people also came and made their place; and they gave full satisfaction to those whose torne they had found and taken when they were at Cap-Codd.

Thus ther peace and aquaintance was prety well establisht with the natives aboute them; and ther was an other Indean called Hobamackcome to live amongst them, a proper lustie man, and a man of accounte for his vallour and parts amongst the Indeans, and continued very faithfull and constant to the English till he dyed. He and Squanto being gone upon bussines amonge the Indeans, at their returne (whether it was out of envie to them or malice to the English) ther was a Sachem called Corbitant, alyed to Massassoyte, but never any good freind to the English to this day, mett with them at an Indean towne caled Namassakett 14. miles to the west of this place, and begane to quarell with them, and offered to stabe Hobamack; but being a lusty man, he cleared him selfe of him, and came running away all sweating and tould the Govr what had befalne him, and he feared they had killed Squanto, for they threatened them both, and for no other cause but because they were freinds to the English, and servisable unto them. Upon this the Gover taking counsell, it was conceivd not fitt to be borne; for if they should suffer their freinds and messengers thus to be wronged, they should have none would cleave unto them, or give them any inteligente, or doe them serviss afterwards; but nexte they would fall upon them selves. Whereupon it was resolved to send the Captaine and 14. men well armed, and to goe and fall upon them in the night; and if they found that Squanto was kild, to cut of Corbitants head, but not to hurt any but those that had a hand in it. Hobamack was asked if he would goe and be their guid, and bring them ther before day. He said he would, and bring them to the house wher the man lay, and show them which was he. So they set forth the 14. of August, and beset the house round; the Captin giving charg to let none pass out, entred the house to search for him. But he was goone away that day, so they mist him; but understood that Squanto was alive, and that he had only threatened to kill him, and made an offer to stabe him but did not. So they withheld and did no more hurte, and the people came trembling, and brought them the best provissions they had, after they were aquainted by Hobamack what was only intended. Ther was 3. sore wounded which broak out of the house, and asaid to pass through the garde. These they brought home with them, and they had their wounds drest and cured, and sente home. After this they had many gratulations from diverce sachims, and much firmer peace; yea, those of the Iles of Capawack sent to make frendship; and this Corbitant him selfe used the mediation of Massassoyte to make his peace, but was shie to come neare them a longe while after.

After this, the 18. of Sepembr: they sente out ther shalop to the Massachusets, with 10. mee, and Squanto for their guid and interpreter, to discover and veiw that bay, and trade with the natives,the which they performed, and found kind entertainement. The people were much affraid of the Tarentins,a people to the eastward which used to come in harvest time and take away their torne, and many times kill their persons. They returned in saftie, and brought home a good quanty of beaver, and made reporte of the place, wishing they had been ther seated; (but it seems the Lord, who assignes to all mee the bounds of their habitations, had apoynted it for an other use). And thus they found the Lord to be with them in all their ways, and to blesse their outgoings and incommings, for which let his holy name have the praise for ever, to all posteritie.

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.
In Novembr, about that time twelfe month that them selves came, ther came in a small ship to them unexpected or loked for,in which came Mr. Cushman (so much spoken of before) and with him 35. personsto remaine and live in the plantation; which did not a litle rejoyee them. And they when they came a shore and found all well, and saw plenty of vitails in every house, were no less glade. For most of them were lusty yonge mee, and many of them wild enough, who litle considered whither or aboute what they wente, till they came into the harbore at Cap-Codd, and ther saw nothing but a naked and barren place. They then begane to thinke what should become of them, if the people here were dead or cut of by the Indeans. They begane to consulte (upon some speeches that some of the sea-mee had cast out) to take the sayls from the yeard least the ship should gett away and leave them ther. But the mr hereing of it, gave them good words, and tould them if any thing but well should have befallne the people hear, he hoped he had vitails enough to cary them to Virginia, and whilst he had a bitt they should have their parte; which gave them good satisfaction. So they were all landed; but ther was not so much as bisket-cake or any other victiallsfor them, neither had they any beding, but some sory things they had in their cabins, nor pot, nor pan, to drese any meate in; nor overmany cloaths, for many of them had brusht away their coats and cloaks at Pymouh as they came. But ther was sent over some burching-lanesuits in the ship, out of which they were supplied. The plantation was glad of this addition of strenght, but could have wished that many of them had been of beter condition, and all of them beter furnished with provissions; but that could not now be helpte.
Questions of the Day: How do you react to reading it in the original?

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