Happy Thanksgiving

A Day to Remember Our Ancestors
In 1606 a group of London investors got permission from King James to set up two colonies on the east coast of north America – one in Jamestown, Virginia and one in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The venture was financed by selling shares of stock. A pretty good investment, as the company was given exclusive rights to control all the land and resources in both colonies.

The Virginia Company needed a labor force to build the colonies and in exchange for seven years of labor, the company provided passage, food, protection and land ownership. Recruiting workers wasn’t a problem.

The people who were to become the first colonist wanted to leave England for different reasons. Some were adventurers, some were looking to establish their own businesses, but most came for freedom from religious persecution.

in September of 1620, when the 102 passengers boarded the Mayflower in Plymouth, England, their destination was Jamestown, Virginia. Well, they weren’t prepared for the severe winter storms in the north Atlantic.  After three months at sea, the small ship landed more than 600 miles off course in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Not exactly the warm Virginia climate they were expecting.

During the voyage two people died aboard ship, but the worst was yet to come. Because the pilgrims arrived at the beginning of the New England winter, there was little food and no shelter available. The harsh weather forced the pilgrims to live on the ship. More than half of the settlers died of malnutrition, illness and exposure.

I’m very thankful for that hardy bunch of pilgrims who first came to America. They paved the way for my great-grandparents who arrived here, 300 years later, from eastern Europe.

Enjoy Montgomery Gentry – Where I Come From:

Thanksgiving

A Great Festival of America
Thanksgiving did not become a national holiday in the United States until the fall of 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring that the last Thursday in November would be a day of national thanksgiving.

While Lincoln issued the proclamation, credit for making Thanksgiving a national holiday should go to Sarah J. Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, a popular magazine for women in 19th century America.

Hale, who campaigned for years to make Thanksgiving a nationally observed holiday, wrote to Lincoln on September 28, 1863 and urged him to issue a proclamation. Hale mentioned in her letter that having such a national day of Thanksgiving would establish a “great Union Festival of America.”
And so, he did:

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
 Secretary of State

Enjoy a little music to celebrate – Vivaldi Concerto in C Major by Europa Galante: