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The Real Story of the First Thanksgiving

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
November 23, 2023 3:03 am

The Real Story of the First Thanksgiving

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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November 23, 2023 3:03 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Thanksgiving is the only American holiday that has actually remained relatively innocent—it’s not something that we have been able to commercialize. But there’s something going on here more than feasting, family, and football. Robert Tracy McKenzie is a professor of history at Wheaton College and is the author of The First Thanksgiving. He’s here to tell us the story of this quintessentially American holiday.

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Listen to Health Discovered on the iHeartRadio app, or wherever you get your podcasts. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories. And this show, we celebrate Thanksgiving and it's the only American holiday that's actually remained relatively innocent. It's not something that we've been able to commercialize, but there is something going on here that's more than just feasting, family, and football.

Robert Tracy McKenzie is a professor of history at Wheaton College. He's also the author of The First Thanksgiving. He's here to tell us the story of this quintessentially American holiday.

Let's take a listen. The story of the pilgrims in the first Thanksgiving in many respects is one chapter in a much, much larger story, a story that is grounded in an enormous phenomenon that we remember as the Protestant Reformation. In the early years of the 1500s, individuals like Martin Luther, the German theologian and monk, had begun to work toward reforming the Catholic Church, changing some of its theological teachings, some of its church practices, some of its governing structure, and Luther found that that was essentially impossible to accomplish within the confines of the Catholic Church, ultimately leading to a break with the Catholic Church. In 1517, on Halloween evening, Luther famously put up his 95 theses, his 95 statements of protest about Catholic teaching. This caused his relationship with the Pope, with the Catholic hierarchy to deteriorate pretty rapidly, leading ultimately to the Pope declaring Luther a heretic in 1520 and prompting Luther ultimately to break with the Catholic Church to establish an independent church, a protesting church. And so Protestantism was born. The Protestant Reformation reaches England maybe a generation later during the reign of King Henry VIII, and ultimately Henry himself also breaks with the Catholic Church and establishes an independent church of England, a church we often remember as the Anglican Church.

The Anglican Church, in many respects, though still retained a lot of the teaching, a lot of the practices, a lot of the hierarchy of Catholicism. So within England there's a core group of English Christians who begin to work to purify the Church of England of its Catholic remnants, and they begin to be referred to often quite sarcastically and critically as Protestants. The group that's gathering at Scrooby by about 1600 or so is actually best thought of as a as a radical kind of subset of English Protestants.

These are individuals who come to be known as separatists. The separatists basically not only believed that the Anglican Church needed reformation, they'd actually arrived at the conclusion that the Anglican Church was not a true church, that it was so far in divergence from what they believed was the the true requirements of scripture that they really couldn't in good conscience associate or worship with Anglicans. They had to withdraw, they had to separate from the Anglican Church. And so we need to understand then this core group is the most radical of the most radical protesting Christians.

In separating from the Anglican Church they're actually defying the established Church of England, they're actually defying the monarchy of England, and so in a certain sense they are considered in many respects outlaws against both church and state. This group ultimately is going to face some persecution in Scrooby. We can exaggerate it, but we know that one member of the congregation was in fact thrown into prison.

Three other leaders of the congregation were under suspicion. There were warrants out for their arrest and they actually go into hiding. And ultimately it led to the conclusion that this group was simply not going to be allowed to worship separately, worship faithfully as they understood it, and so they decided that they would have no alternative but to leave England. Now when we remember the pilgrim story one of the ways that we remember it incorrectly, I think it's really important to go back and recapture this truth, is that pilgrims don't leave England directly for New England. They don't leave Scrooby and head for North America. There's in fact an intermediate step in their migration.

They actually go not to North America but to Holland, and so they're able to get out of the country. It's a complicated and dangerous undertaking, but around the year 1608 they make their way to Holland, settling first of all in Amsterdam where they stay for a matter of months, and then finally relocating about 30 miles to the southwest to the town of Leiden. And it's Leiden where they reside for the next 12 years, and it's from Leiden that they migrate to North America in 1620. We have to understand that Leiden was although smaller than Amsterdam, it was still a large city for its day.

It had a population of about 40,000. These were individuals who had migrated from a tiny rural agricultural village in England, and they found themselves in a vibrant growing industrializing city. It was foreign in many, many ways. You know we sometimes talk about how the pilgrims came to a new world when they migrated to North America, but in a real sense they were going to a new world when they migrated to Holland.

It was so foreign from what they knew, so different, that it's hard for us to exaggerate the challenge. So now rural people were living in a large city, farm folk were having to earn their living in industrial settings as employees in the textile manufacturing line of work, and it was hard. And yet one of the important things that they would have stressed is that they experienced a great deal of religious freedom. Leiden and Holland generally was known for its religious toleration.

It was religiously diverse, but there were problems starting with the economic challenges, and they began to worry about the future of their congregation. And you've been listening to Robert Tracy McKenzie tell the story of the pilgrims, their trek from England to Holland to the city of Leiden, and a very different kind of environment that they'd never experienced before, and soon to be coming to the new world, a very new world. The story of the pilgrims, as told by Robert Tracy McKenzie, it continues here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation. A monthly gift of $17.76 is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to OurAmericanStories.com now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming.

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See sportsbook.draftkings.com basketball terms for eligibility and deposit restrictions terms and responsible gaming resources and we continue with our American stories and with Robert Tracy McKenzie. He's a professor of history at Wheaton College he is also the author of the first Thanksgiving. Let's pick up with the story of the pilgrims and the revival in Leiden. Some of the adults were thinking about returning to England even with its restrictions on religious liberty they thought well at least we'll be able to eat there at least we won't starve there. They found it a hard place to raise their children. This is in Bradford's word a licentious culture a culture that really doesn't have the same moral standards.

They're lax in the way that they train their children. They're critical of the pilgrim parents as being too stern in their child rearing practices and that bothers them as well and it's in that context that they began to consider looking for a new home not in Europe but in fact across the Atlantic Ocean in North America. You know it's very common I think for us to hear someone and referring to the pilgrims to say that they came to this country in search of religious freedom. Now the reality is what they are struggling with really is the cares of this world. It's kind of daily challenges that so many of us face that so many of us can relate to because even though they are motivated by those kinds of economic concerns and family concerns all of their motivation in some way connects back to their deep commitment not just to their families but to their church and so their decision to migrate is not a decision made by a bunch of individuals who happen to leave simultaneously it is a congregational decision.

They are basically deciding as a group that the only way they're going to be able to stay together is if they find together a new home. The voyage of the Mayflower is something that William Bradford who wrote the main history of the pilgrims William Bradford only talks about it in about a page and a half and he doesn't share a lot of details but we do know that it was an arduous and in many ways a terrifying experience for them. To begin with they hadn't been able to leave England they went from Holland back to England en route to North America they hadn't been able to leave England nearly as early in the calendar year as they had hoped and then when they finally were in position to leave one of the ships they had hoped to take two ships one of the ships immediately begins to take on water and they have to return for repairs and that happens not once but twice before they finally have to just give up on the idea that the second ship called the Speedwell would be able to accompany them all of which to say then they actually don't leave England for good until September the 6th in the year 1620 and their voyage will take 65 days and so if you do the math it comes out to an average of just at two miles per hour for 65 days because of the bad weather it would have been almost certain that they would remain below decks for the entire voyage or almost for the entire voyage it was an area that was not tall enough to stand up in and for 65 days they're in an area that was about the size of a good-sized city bus and in that space 102 pilgrim passengers so as the pilgrims were preparing to leave from Leiden it's probably good for us just to stop for a moment and in our mind's eye try to imagine that parting if you're William Bradford for example he's leaving a three-year-old son behind just because it's not possible he just doesn't think it's possible for his son to survive early on he hopes that his son would join him afterward and those kinds of goodbyes were being said repeatedly and the way that Bradford describes the departure in his history is is very touching he really tells us that tears were flowing like water but that and here is the passage that I love so much that they comforted themselves with what they believed to be true and what they believed to be true among other things was that this world was not their home as he put it in his history they reminded themselves that they were pilgrims you know that's the label that we use for this group that we use so much that it loses all of its meaning all of its power but in saying they knew that they were pilgrims he's almost certainly quoting from the 13th chapter of the book of Hebrews in the Christian New Testament where the author says that various heroes of the Christian faith knew that they were pilgrims that the world was not their home and Bradford is saying that they found comfort in reminding themselves of that truth they were temporary sojourners in this land their ultimate hope lay elsewhere so they knew that they were pilgrims one of the things about this that really is I think miraculous is that there was only one fatality among the 102 pilgrim passengers on board the Mayflower this was not really at all to be expected there had been a voyage of Puritans actually just the year before to Virginia to resettle there and a passenger list that had 180 individuals on it found that by the end of that voyage 130 had died and so surviving the voyage almost without loss of life was pretty amazing so they arrive on the coast of New England in early November actually the 9th of November specifically but they're considerably north of where they had expected to land they had entered into an agreement with a corporation that had been authorized by the king of England to settle what is today the area of Virginia the Carolinas Maryland on up to basically to Hudson River but they landed considerably north of that actually off the coast of Cape Cod and they were on the coast of Cape Cod and so their first response is well we have to turn south we have to go to the area where we've been authorized to settle and they tried to do that but the area there around Cape Cod is really treacherous for navigation and the captain captain Reynolds tells them that this is not going to happen this is too dangerous we're not going to undertake this and it's on the 23rd of December according to their records 23rd of December in the year 1620 they go ashore on the site of what we know today is the town of Plymouth Massachusetts the area actually had been the site of a Native American village a village inhabited by a tribe called the Patuxent but the Patuxent had been devastated by disease sometime probably not too long before 1620 certainly after 1615 so fairly recently the Patuxent had been literally wiped out historians are not sure what the disease was it may have been viral hepatitis so where the pilgrims land is is sort of like a ghost village in essence they're arriving right at the onset of a bitter New England winter and if I could just say this parenthetically this really surprises them they know that they're going to be late in the year but they really were not expecting such severe weather and you might think why in the world not if you look at a map you'll actually find that in terms of latitude present-day Massachusetts is pretty much on the same line of latitude as Madrid Spain so the pilgrims are actually traveling substantially south about 600 miles south of London and so they're actually expecting a temperate climate even as late as 1622 a couple years later one pamphlet that's advertising the settlement is saying that it's going to be sort of like a garden spot this is going to be sort of like a place in the Riviera you know and what they get of course is very very different so the next few months are just awful one historian would later call this the starving time and that actually is a misunderstanding I think of what was was going on they actually have enough food to avoid starvation what they don't have is shelter and so they mostly live on board the Mayflower but every day when they want to work trying to build these structures they have to find a way to get to shore and you're listening to our Thanksgiving special and you're listening to Robert Tracy McKenzie tell the story of the pilgrims and we learned that they were enlightened and they had religious freedom there but the cultural influences of the big city just didn't match up with the interests of the pilgrims and how they wanted to raise their family and so the congregation decides to head well to head to America and by the way what a surprise to find out though they sailed 600 miles south the brutal winters of New England were not to be expected when we come back more of this remarkable story the pilgrim's story the story of Thanksgiving is a part of our Thanksgiving special here on our American stories tis the season of making the perfect wish list and the perfect playlist level up your listening and gift more than just a headphone this holiday with Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds and headphones breakthrough Bose immersive audio uses rich spatialized sound to bring your fave holiday classics to life world-class noise cancellation straps you in for a not so typical silent night and custom tuned technology analyzes your ear shape adapting the audio performance so each whistle 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your child's future is too important to leave to chance choose via cord and the time for you to act is now from now through december 1st you can take advantage of via cords best price of the year with 500 cord blood processing and 9.95 cord blood and tissue processing you can register today and lock in this special price with nothing due until after the birth of your baby visit via cords website at via cord viacord.com to sign up now or learn more and we continue with our american stories and with robert tracy mackenzie telling the story of the first thanksgiving let's pick up where we last left off the mayflower had come with a long boat they expected to use this boat for fishing but they had had to disassemble the boat to fit it into the hold and it had been damaged in route so it took quite a while to repair that boat so for actually several weeks the adults who would go ashore to work would have to wade through the frigid water in december and january in massachusetts and not just a short space because the harbor was so shallow the mayflower is anchored probably between three quarters of a mile and a mile from shore so the first thing they'll do every day is to wade through this icy water up to their chests for three quarters of a mile or more and then the last thing they'll do after having worked all day is to repeat the journey in the opposite direction and so you can imagine the the real theory i think the more likely theory is that they will die in droves from pneumonia so that by spring of the 102 passengers originally on the mayflower 52 have died and every family is affected there were 26 different family groups among the passengers and only four were spared from at least one death so 22 of the families had at least one family member die there were 18 married couples on the mayflower and 14 have one of the two partners die and much to i think our amazement ought to amaze us when the weather allows the mayflower to return to england in the spring of 1621 the survivors are given the opportunity to return to england and they refuse and now they are needing to be wholly absorbed in the work of completing their settlement planting crops and hopefully preparing for their survival during the next winter to come it's in this context that they have really their first significant encounter with native american peoples in the area and in the spring of 1621 they actually are visited on two occasions by native american visitors two different individuals who actually are able to speak english and they're they're floored by that the better known of these two was a native american man named squanto his full name was tisquantum squanto story is is very fascinating he had actually learned english because he had been kidnapped by european fishermen sometime before the great epidemic epidemic struck his tribal community he had been kidnapped and taken to spain where actually his freedom after a time was purchased by some spanish monks who facilitated his escape to england there he worked for a time as a servant to an english sea captain ultimately is able to get passage on a ship back to north america and make his way overland to patuxent to what is now Plymouth where to his great horror he finds that all of his people have now been victims of the epidemic he was made a prisoner of another native american tribe that was in the area and this was the wampanoag tribe the wampanoag had also been devastated by disease though not wiped out and they're the peoples that will ultimately interact most intimately with the pilgrims in the immediate months and years to come there are a variety of ways that they help the pilgrims and some of these details you probably have heard from your childhood one of the things that the wampanoag will do is to help the pilgrims master a form of agriculture that's really appropriate for the terrain and the climate of the area and so these kinds of sort of life hacks we would say today are things that the wampanoag teach to the pilgrims that surely were very central to their survival and so that leads to a cause for celebration in the fall of 1621. The sum total of evidence that we have about the event that we call the first thanksgiving comes from a letter that was written by one of the pilgrims a man named edward winslow and he writes this letter toward the end of 1621 when there's an opportunity to send it back to england with a ship that is passing by and in this little letter he describes what has occurred in some total of four sentences which add up to 115 words he basically says that with the harvest being in their governor william bradford basically said and i'm paraphrasing here said let's celebrate and so bradford sends four men of the community out into the woods to hunt for fowl for birds as they were celebrating according to winslow the indians as he says many of the indians came among us and for three days they entertained them and feasted together so this is the sum total of what we actually know 115 words in four sentences and let's think about it for just a moment actually it doesn't tell us much about what was on the menu there's a reference to fowl but it doesn't say turkey by the way the pilgrim records that survive talk about swans and geese and herons and cranes and ducks and so probably the main menu at the gathering would have been these kinds of delicacies we also don't have any reference to candied yams or to pumpkin pie or to any things that we associate with a traditional thanksgiving a dinner there's good reason for that the pilgrims didn't have ovens pretty much everything that they would have been able to fix at this time would have been boiled or roasted they didn't have sugar they didn't have flour for pie crusts the reality is they probably are eating lots of water fowl they're probably eating what they would have called sauce which basically means fixings or trimmings like turnips and parsnips and cabbage and collard greens i often joke quite possible that they had turnips and eels in fact it's more likely that they had turnips and eels than that they had turkey and dressing the one other thing on the menu that we want to call attention to is venison and this is in that four sentence account from edward winslow we're told that the native american people who came brought with them five deer which leads us to think a little bit about the presence of the native americans there one of the things that's not in the historical record that we often assume is in the historical record is the idea that the pilgrims actually invited the wampanoag to be a part of their celebration and winslow doesn't say that his language is much more oblique than that it says indians came among us and so it's at least possible that they were unexpected guests and we do know that the wampanoag did from time to time come into the pilgrim settlement and often did expect to stay for some period of time and often did expect to enjoy some of the pilgrim's store of food and so it wouldn't have been the first time the fact is the pilgrims and the wampanoag were able to come to the pilgrims and the wampanoag were able to survive as different as they were they were able to benefit one another they avoided war and these are wonderful kinds of things to call attention to the account from winslow says that the pilgrims exercised their arms that's his wording which basically means they got out their guns and they sort of went through military drill and we might imagine sort of both sides in different ways trying to demonstrate their prowess trying to make sure that the other side knew that they were not to be trifled with and you're listening to robert tracy mackenzie tell the story of the first thanksgiving and so much more including the story of the pilgrims my goodness that passage from the mayflower 52 passengers died 22 of the families lost at least one family member and not being prepared for that brutal winter my goodness and then to learn that they had to walk a mile each way back to the mayflower where they had to reside and if you've ever been in new england waters i grew up in new jersey you can't know just how bitter cold it is even in march but the winter it's quite remarkable and anytime you're you're complaining about cold water or about your life think about the story of the pilgrims and what they endured for the love of their god and for the love of their church and their families when we come back more of this remarkable american story the first thanksgiving here on our american stories tis the season of making the perfect wish list and the perfect playlist level up your listening and gift more than just a headphone this holiday with bows quiet comfort ultra earbuds and headphones breakthrough bows immersive audio uses rich spatialized sound to bring your fave holiday classics to life world-class noise cancellation straps you in for a not so typical silent night and custom-tuned technology analyzes your ear shape adapting the audio performance so each whistle note hits higher and each sleigh bell rings even brighter than the last it's everything music should make you feel taken to new holiday highs it's more than just a present and it gifts like a party so turn your ordinary moments into epic memories with the gift of sound visit bows.com forward slash iheart to save big on holiday cheer and shop sound that's more than just a present insurance can be confusing sometimes that's why state farm is there for your what-ifs because they know the rest of your life is full thinking about other things like what if your life was a playlist imagine how crazy it would be your first song might be a noisy track called kids the second one a spooky track called home ownership then 100 more songs called work health pets cars yard work the playlist goes on and once you put it on repeat and add shuffle mode things might not sound all that jazzy that's why the last track you'd want to add to your life's playlist is called insurance uncertainties with lyrics like what if i'd like to add coverage to my policy what if i have a question well there are some positive notes that can help keep your life in harmony you can file a claim on the state farm mobile app talk to a real person including your agent about insurance coverage and policy questions because that's just what they do so no matter how noisy your life may get insurance can still be music to your ears like a good neighbor state farm is there this is jana kramer from wind down with jana kramer imagine a simple and powerful act at the time of your baby's birth that could prepare them for their potential future health needs cord blood banking is such an amazing thing and it's a one-time opportunity for something so important via cord is the only choice using innovative technology via cord extracts and preserves stem cells providing families the opportunity of a potential safeguard against nearly 80 serious medical conditions with 25 years of experience via cord stands out as a leader in cord blood banking because your child's future is too important to leave to chance choose via cord and the time for you to act is now from now through december 1st you can take advantage of via cords best price of the year with 500 cord blood processing and 995 cord blood and tissue processing you can register today and lock in this special price with nothing due until after the birth of your baby visit via cords website at via cord viacord.com to sign up now or learn more and we continue here with our american stories and with robert tracy mckenzie who's a professor of history at wheaton college he's also the author of the first thanksgiving let's pick up where we last left off the account from winslow says that king massasoit who is the leader of the wampanoag tribe brought with him about 90 men and then let's think about the pilgrims themselves 50 survivors overwhelmingly male because females have died in greater proportions than males there are about five males for every female among the pilgrims at the first thanksgiving our estimate is that by the end of all those deaths in the winter there was maybe only one pilgrim over 40 years old the governor of the colony william bradford is 30 just one of the thought as you see them in your mind's eye evidence from the time suggests that they had not yet built much in the way of furniture they certainly would not have had lots of long tables you always see the pictures of the long tables set up outside they didn't have forks at all forks were a relatively recent innovation in england and it was often thought very pretentious to use a fork was a sign that you were a fop and so they would have had knives and spoons they would almost certainly been sitting on the ground they're not only young they're colorful you know the standard stereotype which actually dates to the late 1800s shows pilgrims not wearing all black really tall hats they have buckles on every sort of part of their clothing but the records from the colony of the the property of people when they die suggests that their clothes were bright colors the governor william bradford has a red cape and a purple vest the pilgrims actually fought of thanksgiving as a very solemn holy day so we use the word holiday which really is an elision of holy day and it's very unlikely that what we remember as the first thanksgiving is actually something that they would have called a thanksgiving they believe that the bible authorized god's people to declare declare these special kinds of holy celebrations in response to some extraordinary circumstance but when that happened they anticipated gatherings that would have been solemn that would have been centered on lengthy preaching prayer and singing not on feasting certainly not on games not on military drill and so what they're doing at this gathering in the fall of 1621 is they're having just a kind of harvest celebration that they would have known from their youth in rural england a good question that comes to mind is just why is it that we attach such significance to the pilgrim celebration of 1621 and i think there's probably a variety of answers but i have a theory that i'd like to share with you has to do with when americans actually discovered this event and that may strike you as odd even to put it that way but the reality is the american people didn't remember this gathering for a very long time actually for more than two centuries after it occurred the main description of it as i've mentioned was in a letter that was written and taken back to england was actually published in england as part of a pamphlet but then it gradually sort of went out of circulation and there was just no historical record of this event but a copy of the pamphlet is not actually discovered in north america until the 1820s until two centuries after the first thanksgiving it's discovered by a sort of amateur historian who's a minister in new england and he actually includes it in a history that he is writing about the origins of new england and includes it in a book that was published in the year 1841 220 years after the event and in this book he tells his readers when he repeats the description by edward winslow and here is the first thanksgiving that ever occurred in new england by the 1840s new england had come to celebrate thanksgiving every fall it become a really sort of treasured tradition thanksgiving actually wasn't celebrated in the south it wasn't celebrated in much of the western united states it was a new england holiday but it was a cherished new england holiday and then this minister in 1841 tells new englanders and here is where it all started this was the origin of the celebration and so all of a sudden individuals have discovered they believe the source of their tradition and pretty quickly they begin to emphasize it as one of those sort of seminal moments in the early history of the country as late then as the 1840s thanksgiving is still pretty much a regional holiday it does get a boost about 20 years later during the american civil war abraham lincoln president of the united states during this period of course is being lobbied by a female writer named sarah josephah hale who is an editor of a prominent ladies magazine and she's contacting lincoln every fall and saying you need to declare this as a national holiday and the way that hale makes her case is to say that all of the holidays at that point that were recognized nationally they were for men and they're really just two holidays national holidays at the time one was the fourth of july she thought of that as a male holiday the other was george washington's birthday and that would also have been a time predominantly where men gathered together where there were speeches and so forth and she thought that thanksgiving is the perfect woman's holiday it was a domestic holiday it's centered around entertainment within the home centered around a fine meal and so forth and so she keeps lobbying lincoln and in 1863 lincoln finally relents and he issues a proclamation in the fall of that year calling for thanksgiving toward the end of november of 1863 he actually repeats that in a subsequent proclamation in the fall of 1864 and of course he is assassinated in early 1865 but what lincoln has done is to establish a precedent and from that point on presidents would issue a national proclamation declaring a day of thanksgiving usually on the fourth or the final thursday of the month one other question we might want to think about before we conclude you know what happens to the Plymouth colony after all this is over bradford lives into the 1650s and for most of his time in new england he is the governor of the Plymouth colony and he writes at length about what is occurring and what he is describing is a time of fragmentation of the pilgrim community and the reason why this is so is prosperity and that's not what we expect to hear i suppose the pilgrims had struggled for years to keep body and soul together and then toward the end of the 1620 something had happened that really changed their economic fortunes and that was the establishment of the massachusetts bay colony so the massachusetts bay colony is a far larger colony beginning with what's sometimes called the great puritan migration that leads to the migration of thousands not just of a couple of hundred but thousands of puritan migrants over a period of years to new england and the center of that massachusetts colony will be only about 30 35 miles to the north at boston but the individuals who are coming need supplies just like the pilgrims had needed them and the pilgrims had a 10-year head start on massachusetts bay and they had slowly begun to build flocks of sheep and herds of cattle and so they find in the migrants to massachusetts bay a ready market and the bottom line is at least as william bradford tells the story is that many of the pilgrims consciously decided to move away from Plymouth to move away from the church there because they saw more economic opportunity somewhere else so it's actually a story that in some sense is bittersweet it was a story of great sacrifice to keep the church together under adverse conditions followed by a gradual weakening of the church in a time of prosperity so much so that william bradford actually ends his history of Plymouth plantation by suggesting that the small group of survivors that still lived in Plymouth were much like as he put it a mother that had been abandoned by her children and and that's a that's a sorrowful mournful kind of note that bradford ends with the significance of this though i think is also great for us as we remember the story because we think of the challenges that we face often in terms of adversity and so we look to the pilgrim story and we see an example of perseverance courage ultimately victory in adversity but i think the pilgrim story tells us that adversity comes in a variety of forms you remember the parable of jesus about the cares of this world being a kind of thorn that can choke out the fruitfulness of the plant as it turns out the cares of this world sort of traveled with the pilgrims there's no getting away from them and in the end the temptation to have a desire for other things was there so it's a complicated story but as we dig into its complexity it becomes richer and it challenges us in new ways takes on a relevance that it would lack otherwise and a great job as always by Greg Hengler on the production and the storytelling and a special thanks again to Robert Tracy Mackenzie his book the first thanksgiving go to amazon or the usual suspects to pick it up and he's so right it is rich it is complicated and surviving success can be as hard or possibly harder than adversity and what i was most struck by in the story is their profound belief that they were pilgrims and what that word meant to them because the heroes of the christian faith they said were indeed pilgrims two centuries go by before we even discover the story it is a regional thing at 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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-23 04:38:08 / 2023-11-23 04:56:10 / 18

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