Long ago there were some people in England who were very unhappy because the king would not allow them to worship God in their own way. Some of these people went to Holland, where they lived for several years, but when their little boys and girls began to talk Dutch instead of English they decided to go to America.
They went back to England, got permission from King James to settle in America, and then set sail in the Mayflower. After a rough voyage, lasting over nine weeks, they finally landed at what is now called Plymouth.
Immediately upon landing, the men and the boys began to cut down trees and clear the forests. They built a large fort in which all lived together until the houses were ready for use.
The Pilgrims, as these people were called, had a hard struggle during their first winter. It was bitterly cold, and food was so scarce that many became sick and died.
At first the Pilgrims lived in constant fear of the Indians. But in March an Indian named Squanto came to the Pilgrims and said that his people wished to be their friends. Later he brought the chief Massasoit, who made a treaty and smoked the peace pipe with them. Squanto remained with the Pilgrims and taught them the best way to fish and hunt and how to plant Indian corn.
Everything grew so well during the first summer that when autumn came the Pilgrims had plenty of food for the coming winter. They felt so grateful that they set aside a day on which to give thanks for their great harvest, and as they wished the Indians to share in their rejoicing, Squanto was sent to invite Massasoit and his braves. Everyone helped in the preparation for the feast. The men brought home deer and turkeys from the hunt, the boys brought fish and clams, and the women and girls were busy cooking.
On Thanksgiving Day the Indians came at sunrise. After breakfast the Pilgrims went to church, and when the sermon was over, all were ready for the feast. The afternoon was spent in games. The celebration, which lasted for three days, ended with a great dinner.
Since that time we have always had a Thanksgiving Day.
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TEXT CREDIT: Title: Good English, oral and written, Book 1. Good English, Oral and Written, William Harris Elson. Authors: William Harris Elson, Lura E. Runkel, Clara E. Lynch. Publisher: Scott, Foresman and Co., 1917. Original from: Harvard University. Digitized: Apr 6, 2007