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Governor Bradford's Alleged First Thanksgiving Proclamation




The Alleged Gov.
Bradford First


The "First Thanksgiving"

For some years, a document (reproduced below) described as Governor Bradford's first Thanksgiving proclamation has surfaced periodically. It is supposed to date from 1623, which is indeed the year of the first Day of Thanksgiving proclaimed in Plymouth Colony. However, there are a number of problems with this identification:

The date of celebration was given as November 29, while the 1623 event happened in the summer, most probably the end of July.

The 1623 event celebrated two events - the end of a drought, and the news that a ship carrying new colonists, feared sunk, was safe and in transit. It had nothing to do with the harvest, activities of Native Americans, pestilence or the establishment of the church.

Plymouth Colony had no pastor at this time; the religious leader was Elder William Brewster..

The proclamation included anachronistic terms such as vegetables, Pilgrims and Plymouth Rock..

Based on the above evidence, the proclamation was probably created sometime in the 20th century. We have yet to trace its origin with any more accuracy. If anyone knows or finds any datable printed source which would help us, please email us at this adddress:


"In 1623, William Bradford, the first Governor of the Colony, wrote a proclamation containing the spirit of the first Thanksgiving.

Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, squashes and garden vegetables, and made the forest to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from the pestilence and granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience, now I, your magistrate do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of nine and twelve in the daytime on Thursday, November ye 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Plymouth Rock, there to listen to ye Pastor and render Thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all his blessings.

Plimoth Plantation
P. O. Box 1620
Plymouth, MA 02362
(508) 746-1622

© Plimoth Plantation, Inc. 1999