|Captain John Woodleaf conducts the first American Thanksgiving upon safe arrival in Virginia.
Image courtesy of Berkeley Plantation.
Contrary to popular belief, the first American Thanksgiving was in Virginia – not Plymouth, Massachusetts.
On December 4, 1619, after ten weeks at sea, thirty-eight English settlers arrived at Berkeley Hundred, about 20 miles upstream from Jamestowne. On that day, Captain John Woodleaf held the first service of Thanksgiving as the newly-landed settlers fell to their knees to thank God for their safe arrival.
The Charter of Berkeley Hundred stated “We ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.”
Thus, the real first American Thanksgiving was held a year before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, and two years before the fabled New England feast.
Historians say the feast at Berkeley Hundred may have included bacon, peas, cornmeal cakes, and cinnamon water. But regardless of the menu, to these settlers, the first Thanksgiving was much more than turkey and pumpkin pie. It was all about prayer.
After several years, the site became Berkeley Plantation, and was the long traditional home of the Harrison Family, one of the First Families of Virginia. Berkeley Plantation was the birthplace of William Henry Harrison, 9th U.S. President and Benjamin Harrison V, signer of the Declaration of Independence. It is also the Ancestral Home of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd U.S. President.
To learn more about the first Thanksgiving CLICK HERE.
To learn more about Berkeley Plantation CLICK HERE.