“Origin of Thanksgiving as a Great Social and Religious Festival Lost in Antiquity” by Rev. Thomas B. Gregory, as printed in the Rockingham Post-Dispatch, November 26, 1919
The great social and religious festival known as Thanksgiving dates back to
the Pilgrims and Puritans of New England. The sentiment of gratitude for favors
granted is as old as humanity, and ages before the Massachusetts settlers were
born mankind was in the habit of expressing its thankfulness by some form of
public celebration. But the institution of Thanksgiving as an annual festival
of thanks and praise for blessings received at the hands of the Great Author of
our being had its origin among the founders of New England.
For reasons which were “good and sufficient” unto themselves, the Puritans
abolished Christmas, and feeling the need of some other day to replace it, they
instituted Thanksgiving day. After the first harvest of the New England
colonies Governor Bradford ordered a public rejoicing with prayer and praise.
This was in October or November, 1621. On July 30, 1623 was held the second
Thanksgiving, the first ever appointed by a governor in an authoritative way.
On February 22, 1631, there occurred in Boston the first Thanksgiving
celebration of which any written account remains among the colonial archives.
The first regular Thanksgiving proclamation was printed in Massachusetts in
The first Thanksgiving proclamation ever issued by a president of the United
States was by George Washington in 1795. From Massachusetts the custom spread
to other colonies. In 1830 the governor of New York appointed a day for public
thanksgiving and other northern states quickly followed.