The Origins of Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving

Squanto and Sarah Josepha Buel Hale had something to do with it

Vanessa Robinson


Photo by Chris Chow on Unsplash

It is important to note that the Pilgrims were thankful to the American Indians for survival when they arrived in Massachusetts on the Mayflower. They meant to go to Manhattan (apparently that was a hot spot even in 1621) but due to bad weather, they ended up landing on the shores of Cape Cod.

It was a miracle, they tell us. In the midst of rough waves, they were gently deposited on the beach right in front of an empty village. One hundred and six Pilgrims were on the journey to the colonies, but only fifty-three survived.

They moved right in.

Of course, they couldn’t know that the original villagers, the Patuxet Indians, had died of a smallpox epidemic years before.

Another miracle was Tisquantum, a Patuxet Indian, otherwise known as Squanto. Having been kidnapped years earlier, taken to Spain, and sold into slavery, he had escaped and returned to his home village in 1619 only to find it empty.

The village where he grew up? The pilgrims lived there now.

He had escaped the epidemic and was the only Patuxet Indian left.

The Pilgrims First Winter

Together, he and his adopted tribe the Wampanoags helped the pilgrims survive. According to Edward Winslow, a senior leader on the Mayflower, the tribes loved on them…

“We have found the Indians very faithful in their covenant of peace with us; very loving and ready to pleasure us: we often go to them, and they come to us;-”

Squanto and the other Indian tribes helped them plant corn, beans, squash, to hunt game and to fish. There were even pumpkins in attendance.

And then they had the first giving of thanks together that winter;

“-many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted,-”

Many believe that this is the first Thanksgiving from which everything is derived. There is some truth to this. Three days. That was some party.



Vanessa Robinson

Writer and Observer: Injustice, History, Family, Love, and Politics. Electrical Engineer. Completing First Historical Fiction Novel.