A Georgian View of Thanksgiving

I found this small passage about Thanksgiving that was published in 1802 on the origins of Thanksgiving in New England and thought it appropriate to share.

“There is a tradition, that in the planting of New England, the first settlers met with many difficulties and hardships, as is general the case when a civilized people attempt establishing themselves in a wilderness country. Being piously disposed, they sought relief from heaven, by laying their wants and distresses before the Lord in frequent set days of fasting and prayer. Constant meditation and discourse on these subjects kept their minds gloomy and discontented; and, like the children of Israel, there were many disposed to return to that Egypt which persecution had induced them to abandon. At length, when it was proposed in the assembly to proclaim another fast, a farmer of plain sense rose, and remarked that the inconveniences they suffered, and concerning which they had so often wearied Heaven with their complaints, were not so great as they might have expected, and were diminishing every day as the colony strengthened; that the earth began to reward their labour, and to furnish liberally for their subsistences; that the seas and rivers were found full of fish, the air sweet, the climate healthy; and, above all, that they were there in the full enjoyment of liberty civil and religious; he therefore thought, that reflecting and conversing on these subjects would be more comfortable, as tending more to make them contented with their situation; and that it would be more becoming the gratitude they owed to the Divine Being, fi, instead of a fast, they should proclaim a thanksgiving. His advice was taken; and from that day, to this they have, in every year, observed circumstances of public felicity sufficient to furnish employment for a thanksgiving day, which is therefore constantly ordered and religiously observed.”

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Turkeys. Author’s collection.

At this time of year, I too wish for you that the earth will reward your labors, the seas and rivers will be full of fish, the air sweet, the climate healthy, and, above all, that you may enjoy the freedom of liberty on this Thanksgiving Day.

References:

  • The Lady’s Magazine and Musical Repository, Volume 3, 1802

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