In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.
The Pilgrims Came: Annette Wynne
And never thought of you and me;
And yet it’s very strange the way
We think of them Thanksgiving Day.
We tell their story old and true
Of how they sailed across the blue,
And found a new land to be free
And built their homes quite near the sea.
The people think that they were sad,
And grave; I’m sure that they were glad –
They made Thanksgiving Day – that’s fun –
We thank the Pilgrims every one!
∼ Annette Wynne
Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States, and Thanksgiving 2019 occurs on Thursday, November 28. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.