Mourt’s Relation—The First Thanksgiving and the Indians

An excerpt from the Jordon D. Fiore Edition

Editor’s note: The Pilgrims should be more well known, especially by those who love historic America. The Pilgrims’ held to the idea that the faith of Jesus Christ should permeate every part of life. Their many Biblical practices became mainstream throughout the colonies. It seems this came about at least through the many educators sent out to the rest of the colonies from New England. Thus a small band once had tremendous influence. Through the rich original source material available to us, the Pilgrim story ought once more to have such influence toward the restoration of America’s one time Christian liberty, justice, prosperity, and generosity.

A History of Mourt’s Relation

To begin with, the Pilgrim Fathers were ever mindful of their place in history. Although they were a small, modest, and unassuming band and probably not much of a force in their own Day, these Pilgrims were very much aware of their past and of their responsibilities toward their friends in England and Holland, as well as to their own posterity. They were excellent record-keepers….

On the First Thanksgiving

Our harvest being gotten, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer!” which they brought to the plantation, and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

Regarding the Indians

We have found the Indians very faithful in their covenant of peace with us, very loving, and ready to [please] us. We often go to them, and they come to us. Some of us have been fifty miles-+ by land in the country with them, the occasions and relations whereof you shall understand by our general and more full declaration of such things as are worth the noting. Yea, it hath pleased God so to possess the Indians with a fear of us and love unto us, that not only the greatest king amongst them, called Massasoit, but also all the princes and peoples round about us, have either made suit unto us, or been glad of any occasion to make peace with us; so that seven of them at once have sent their messengers to us to that end. Yea, an isle at sea, which we never saw, hath also, together with the former, yielded willingly to be under the protection and subject to our sovereign lord King James. So that there is now great peace amongst the Indians themselves, which was not formerly, neither would have been but for us; and we, for our parts, walk as peaceably and safely in the wood as in the highways in England. We entertain them familiarly in our houses, and they as friendly bestowing their venison on us. They are a people without any religion or knowledge of any God yet very trusty, quick of apprehension, ripe-witted, just.

Excerpted from Jordan D. Fiore, Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims of Plymouth (Plymouth, MA: The Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1985), xi, 72-73.

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