When the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth in November of 1620, they faced several months of work and hunger. During that winter, they lived on the Mayflower, which was anchored a mile or two out in Plymouth Harbor. The men rowed inland in small boats every day to build houses, returning in the evening to sleep. Many of the Pilgrims became sick during this cold, long winter. In fact, half the group died.
Squanto, a Wampanoag Indian, befriended the Pilgrims. He, along with other Wampanoag, taught the Pilgrims how to grow corn and other foods. Without the Wampanoags’ help, the Pilgrims probably wouldn’t have survived. By the following autumn, the Pilgrims had built seven houses, three storehouses for food, and a meeting house. They were very grateful for their successes. They held a feast with the Wampanoags to thank them and to thank God.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Has America always celebrated Thanksgiving?
Answer: George Washington and a few other leaders called for a day of Thanksgiving, but it did not become a national holiday until 1863. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln called for a national observance of Thanksgiving. He said, “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.”
Visit Scholastic to learn more about the First Thanksgiving.
Read Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation.
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