Click for bigger photo.Thanksgiving Source Documents: Bradford, from Family Christmas OnlineTM

This record of the "First Thanksgiving" was written 1641 in William Bradford's memoir, Of Plymouth Plantation. Bradford was an early governor of Plymouth whose memoir covers not only the 1621 feast, but also the 1637 Puritan massacre of the Pequot village. This document was apparently taken from Boston by the British during the Revolutionary War. In 1854, scholars tracking down a lead found it a library in Fulham, England. Republication of the book stirred much interest in Plymouth's early history, including the harvest festival that became known as Thanksgiving.

Ironically, some of the bloggers who quote Bradford's memoirs at length to portray the atrocity of the 1637 attack on the Pequot and the celebration that followed claim that there is no credible historical record of the 1621 feast, although the following text is from the same document.

    They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercising in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.

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