Thanksgiving, A Time Of Introspection and Reality

I have actually seen more thoughtful posts on social media this year, not so much of “Happy Turkey Day” and more mention of things for which people are thankful.  It’s a nice break from the back and forth of politics and petty arguments.

I am thankful I was taught at an early age to be thankful and respectful of my situation and opportunities with which I have been presented.  I am thankful I have been blessed so much; physically, spiritually, emotionally, and that I was trained to recognize the difference between good and bad opportunities.  Life has not always been easy and it might become much more difficult in the future, but I have learned to adapt and persevere.

I have also learned that many people, in fact most, have not had the foundation of learning to help them reach their potential.  As I have researched for my writing, I have also learned this is nothing new or unusual.  We have been told many times in many ways that we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past if we do not know the lessons of history, and it is hard to know those lessons when there has been a coordinated effort to hide or distort the truth.

Today we will read many accounts of the “First Thanksgiving” in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts.  There of course are the accounts that leave out the truth of that situation, that the community was set up under a socialist compact.  The first two and a half years nearly killed them all.  It was only after adopting private property rights, personal responsibility and free market principles that the community began to thrive.

However yet another lie told in that story is often neglected.  It was not the “First Thanksgiving”.

The Plymouth Colony was founded in 1620 after William Bradford and the settlers arrived from Europe.

After two and a half months at sea, the ship Margaret entered Chesapeake Bay on November 28, 1619.  They were to settle on an 8,000 acre tract of land, Berkeley Hundred.  The weather was stormy and it was a week before they actually made landfall at their destination on December 4.

When the passengers (35) and crew (7) had disembarked, they knelt in prayer.  The colonists were brought safely to Virginia by Captain John Woodlief, and he came with written orders from the Berkeley Company.  It declared that their arrival must “be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

It was all about thanks and prayer, not food.

In reality they were unable to keep the day perpetually.  On March 22, 1622, the Powhatan Indians attacked Berkeley and other nearby settlements killing 347 people.  Captain Woodlief survived, however Berkeley was abandoned and her history mostly lost.

In 1931, retired president of William & Mary, and also son of President Tyler, Dr Lyon G Tyler was doing research on early Virginia history.  He discovered the Nibley Papers, documents and records of John Smyth of Nibley, Gloucestershire, giving details about the settlement of Berkeley in 1619.  They had originally been published in 1899, but their significance had remained unnoticed.

A plantation was eventually built on the site in 1726 and does retain the Berkeley name and the first Thanksgiving is not its only claim to fame.

Berkeley is the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison V, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Berkeley is the birthplace of William Henry Harrison, ninth president of the United States, and the ancestral home of his grandson, Benjamin Harrison the twenty third president of the United States.

During the Civil war, the mansion was occupied by Union General McClellan’s army.  While there, General Daniel Butterfield composed “Taps” and it was first played there by bugler OW Norton.  A side note is that a drummer boy with McClellan’s forces, John Jamieson, returned and purchased the plantation and 1400 acres.  John’s son restored and still owns the plantation.

I hope you enjoyed the history lesson, and I hope you all have a wonderful day – and days to come.  We all are greatly blessed and highly favored.

 

 

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