After enduring religious persecution in their native England and for twelve years in Holland, the pilgrims sailed for America. They were modest men and women with a great hope and inward zeal. They rested in the providence of God that He was leading them to a land of religious freedom to advance the gospel of the kingdom of Christ.
The voyage of the Mayflower took twice as long as Christopher Columbus’ voyage, enduring several wintry storms. After arriving in their new land, they faced disease, famine, bitter cold and many dangers. However, when the Mayflower made its return voyage, none of the pilgrims returned with it.
Their first harvest occurred in the autumn of 1621. Their own seed had barely grown, but the Indians had shown them how to plant corn which yielded a huge harvest. On the first Thanksgiving, they celebrated God’s goodness to them with a party of ninety Indians. Their Thanksgiving feast lasted three days and included a festival of sports.
Thanksgiving Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln
“Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may be then, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid, that on the occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust, and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the great Disposer of events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling-place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.”
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving… be thankful unto Him, and bless His name. Psalm 100:4