A Patriot’s First Thanksgiving

As We prepare for Thanksgiving, the travel, family, friends and a feast, too many individual traditions are there to mention. Some may volunteer to serve those who through circumstances are homeless while others may take time to visit retirement communities.

Some will remember our troops in various ways and I hope we all take a moment to thank them for all they do to maintain our freedoms.

There will be laughter, prayers, football, food and stories told tomorrow.

Some will, no doubt, speak of the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims, the Indians, their hardships and how they came together.

I would, this year, like to take you back to a Thanksgiving long ago which most never think of on this holiday.

Before Thanksgiving WAS an official holiday it was still celebrated. Perhaps now as we celebrate it today but, indeed it did hold meaning.

The Thanksgiving of which I hope you will remember is that of 1776.

A newly declared independent nation was at war.

Thanksgiving was no longer thought of as a Puritan or holiday of religion although the thanking of God was a certain factor. In 1776, it was a holiday for Patriots.

Traveling to the home of relatives was generally not done unless of course, those relatives lived in your community. Distance was one thing and naturally, by carriage or horseback, such travel would have been quite time consuming.

No, it was the danger of traveling in 1776. On THAT Thanksgiving, those who celebrated, as Patriots, would have become a target of the British army.

Thanksgiving in 1776 would have been somewhat subdued and spoken of ahead of time in hushed tones.

Neighbors likely would have come together and shared the meal and in some places, where the sound of muskets had been heard in previous days or where the British had been spotted nearby, curtains would have been drawn or window shutters closed.

No need to draw attention to a gathering, a large meal or anything else that would signal a Patriot lived there.

In some ways, that Thanksgiving, in 1776, was very similar to Thanksgiving 2012.

Families who celebrated at home were incomplete. Fathers, brothers and sons were away from home, fighting for freedom.

Families didn’t know exactly where their loved ones were or when they might return. Some had already lost a loved one to the war and others had returned home, injured.

Unlike today, in 1776, word of a family member in the war was scarce. The social media of the day back then was a hastily hand written letter. Those letters would take, in many cases, weeks to be delivered if they were delivered at all. Many fell into the hands of the British and were destroyed.

Those lucky enough to receive a letter still didn’t know for sure, at the time they read the letter, of the one who had written it was still alive.

Given the tension of war…A war taking place on the lands of Patriots, in their towns and cities or near enough to hear the canons roar, why celebrate Thanksgiving at all?

For those IN the service of a new nation, that Thanksgiving in 1776 would have been meager. The meal in most cases not grand if there was a meal to be had at all.

But, there WAS Thanksgiving.

It was about moral.

Throughout the war of independence, Thanksgiving was celebrated to boost moral. The moral of the troops and the moral of those at home waiting for their return or word of their fate.

Thanks was given for those who fought and for those who held the home front.

Thanks for the opportunity of a new beginning.

Isn’t that what those first Pilgrims celebrated too?

Thanks for a new beginning?

In 1776, Thanksgiving would have also been a celebration of Patriot spirit, and of freedom.

Thanksgiving means many things to many people. We all have traditions we celebrate and different cultures hold different traditions.

Regardless of the differences, there should always be one binding element.

In 1776, Thanksgiving was the first such celebration in a fresh new nation.

As you celebrate this year and as you give thanks, remember those who fight in far away places this Thanksgiving day. Thank also those who, throughout our history, have worn our country’s uniform and the sacrifices they and their families made.

And while you’re giving thanks, thank too those Patriots who, in 1776, stood tall in the face of tyranny and championed freedom for without them, without their families and the sacrifices they gave, we would not be a nation, independent, today.

Happy Thanksgiving and may God bless you and keep you and yours safe from harm today and every day. May God bless those who stand in harm’s way for us and our freedom today and throughout history. We thank God for them, all of them and their families and friends. We thank God for all we have and all we are. We thank God for freedom and liberty and for the opportunities we have been given.

And we thank God for those who, in 1776, stood up and gave us a nation.

15 thoughts on “A Patriot’s First Thanksgiving

  1. Mr. Andresen,

    One of the BEST Thanksgiving day articles I have read in me life.

    The heritage, history that you have tied together is superb and I am posting this on my site with full credit to you and a proper link back to here. If this is not all right let me know at once and I shall remove it or reduce it. I mean no harm but this will touch many folks I know. I had been looking for a special post for today for over three hours to share and as a rather far right Constitutional Conservative, your article here is truly about being Thankful for all that we have.


    Explicit references to God, a newly emerging country and our Patriots? There is NOTHING wrong with this and our Republic would do well to remember these virtues, morals and ethics especially through the dark times our republic is currently suffering through.

    A blessed and joyous Thanksgiving to all and thank you again, Mr. Andresen.

  2. Yes, people asked God for blessings pertaining to the war, and thanking Him for those blessings. Of this, I never argued.

    Mu contention is with your comment, “In 1776, it was a holiday for Patriots.”

    Thanksgiving was never a “holiday for patriots”.

    As I demonstrated with the Adams proclamation, the focus was about thanking God for all blessings. The fact that the proclamation authors emphasized the war did not, and does not, lessen the importance and focus on God as you seem to want to believe.

    Every excerpt you have provided supports the notion of a “holiday for patriots” just as much as it does a holiday for schools, seminaries, manufacturers, farmers etc.

    There is a huge difference between including patriotism as something to give thanks for and calling Thanksgiving a “holiday for Patriots”.

  3. I base all of my opinions on facts. When facts undeniably point in a single direction, I follow that direction until, and unless, those facts can be disproved.

    You offered a different direction when you said, “In 1776, it was a holiday for Patriots.” yet you provide no evidence that, “celebration of Patriot spirit, and of freedom” was anything more than one of, “…too many individual traditions are there to mention.”

    With a lack of contrary evidence and fact, this blog remains an example of my previous point; Thanksgiving is a day to remember and give thanks for the many blessing God has granted us and far too many people muddy the waters losing sight of our God.

    With respect to you and your opinion, I accept the fact that you and I may never see eye to on this subject and I thank you for the opportunity to engage in this discussion.

    With all sincerity, I wish you and your loved ones an amazing Thanksgiving Day.

    • More to chew on Rich.

      From November 1st 1777: “The committee appointed to prepare a recommendation to the several states, to set apart a day of public thanksgiving, brought in a report; which was taken into consideration, and agreed to as follows:”

      “Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to him for benefits received, and to implore such farther blessings as they stand in need of; and it having pleased him in his abundant mercy not only to continue to us the innumerable bounties of his common providence, but also smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary war, for the defense and establishment of our unalienable rights and liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased in so great a measure to prosper the means used for the support of our troops and to crown our arms with most signal success:”

      Now…As I said in the article…”Thanksgiving was no longer thought of as a Puritan or holiday of religion although the thanking of God was a certain factor. In 1776, it was a holiday for Patriots.”

      In the paragraph above you see that the thanking of God was indeed a certain factor. I said it and you agree but, YOU conten it was the ONLY factor and that Rich, is where your facts leave ME wanting to know more.
      Therefore, not being satisfied with the easily known facts, I always look deeper for the bigger picture and, indeed the picture IS bigger.

      The proclamation continues with more references to God:

      “It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these United States, to set apart Thursday, the 18th day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise; that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor; and that together with their sincere acknowledgments and offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor, and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance; that it may please him graciously to afford his blessings on the governments of these states respectively, and prosper the public council of the whole;”

      And then…THEN…

      “to inspire our commanders both by land and sea, and all under them, with that wisdom and fortitude which may render them fit instruments under the providence of Almighty God, to secure for these United States the greatest of all blessings, independence and peace;”

      The Patriot aspect of the revolutionary war which you seem to believe, upon ending your search of the facts perhaps too soon, non existent.


      “that it may please him to prosper the trade and manufactures of the people and the labor of the husbandman, that our land may yield its increase; to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety, under his nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

      Rich, there are MANY such referals to patriotism in those revolutionary war Thanksgiving years. Such inclusions were a means to bolster the troops and their moral in a time of uncertain war. Believe it or not.

      Not that additional facts will alter your firmly planted position, they did mine and therefore, an article using more than commonly held beliefs was born. My intention is to provide readers with more of the story than what they might already know and in this case, provide insight into what life may well have been like for those celebrating this holiday.

      I know there is ALWAYS more to be learned and I strive every day to learn more than I knew before.

  4. If you read the entire proclamation you’ll find that even though Adams did make specific reference to the war and those fighting in it, the quote you provided was book-ended with explicit references to God.
    Nowhere was there mention of a change in direction of meaning, or purpose, of Thanksgiving as your article attempts to do.

    “It having pleased Almighty God, through the course of the present year, to bestow great and manifold mercies on the people of these United States; and it being the indispensable duty of all men gratefully to acknowledge their obligations to Him for benefits received:
    Resolved, That it be, and hereby is recommended to the legislative or executive authority of each of the said states, to appoint Wednesday, the 30th day of December next, to be observed as a day of public thanksgiving and praise, that all the people may, with united hearts, on that day, express a just sense of his unmerited favors; particularly in that it hath pleased him, by his overruling providence, to support us in a just and necessary war, for the defense of our rights and liberties, by affording us seasonable supplies for our armies, by disposing the heart of a powerful monarch to enter into alliance with us, and aid our cause; by defeating the councils and evil designs of our enemies, and giving us victory over their troops; and, by the continuance of that union among these states, which, by His blessing, will be their future strength and glory.
    And it is further recommended, that, together with devout thanksgiving, may be joined a penitent confession of our sins, and humble supplication for pardon, through the merits of our Savior; so that, under the smiles of Heaven, our public councils may be directed, our arms by land and sea prospered, our liberty and independence secured, our schools and seminaries of learning flourish, our trade be revived, our husbandry and manufactures encreased, and the hearts of all impressed with undissembled piety, with benevolence and zeal for the public good.
    And it is also recommended, that recreations unsuitable to the purpose of such a solemnity may be omitted on that day.”

    • Rich,

      Hence THIS quote from the article…

      “Thanksgiving was no longer thought of as a Puritan or holiday of religion although the thanking of God was a certain factor. In 1776, it was a holiday for Patriots.”

      I’m quite sorry I can neither rewrite history or my opinion (Commentary from the Right Side of Politics) to fit your individual needs.

      Hence THIS quote from the article…

      “As We prepare for Thanksgiving, the travel, family, friends and a feast, too many individual traditions are there to mention.”

      You are more than free, for the time being, to hold your opinion as am I.

      You should also know that the quote I provided is but a bit of the sources I researched in writing this article and I have neither the time nor the desire to do all of everyone elses homework for them.

      Busy making pumpkin pies from pumpkins for tomorrow’s festivities along with an mountain of various potatoes and other dishes…Thanksgiving you know…

      There is a wealth of information out there if one truly wishes to look for it.


  5. Of all of the Thanksgiving Proclamations I have had the pleasure of reading, I can not recall one that did anything but encourage citizens to remember God, pray, fast, and give thanks for the blessings God had bestowed upon them.

    What is the basis for your article citing the deviation from this in order to emphasize morale, patriotism, and freedom?

    • Rich…

      “That all the People may with united Hearts on that Day express a just Sense of His unmerited Favors — Particularly in that it hath pleased Him, by His over ruling Providence to support us in a just and necessary War for the Defence of our Rights and Liberties; …by defeating the Councils and evil Designs of our Enemies, and giving us Victory over their Troops — and by the Continuance of that Union among these States, which by his Blessing, will be their future Strength & Glory.” –Samuel Adams on behalf of the Continental Congress, November 3, 1778

  6. I did read all the way to the end.
    A few sentences at the end of a long article punctuates my point.
    Thanksgiving was about God. period.
    We, as a nation, keep muddying the waters by trying to include every other subject someone decides needs attention.
    We all need to “keep our eyes on the prize”.

    • Rich,

      As you will notice, the article is about Thanksgiving in 1776 where it went from a Puritan to a Patriotic celebration. Historical perspective while true, may sometimes not reflect an individual’s perspective. While I agree with you that it IS about God…Thanksgiving in 1776 was about the nation.

      THAT is why I choose to bring it BACK to God at the END of the article.


  7. You, as many also do, have forgotten the “who” in giving thanks.
    We, as a nation, have all but forgotten to whom we give thanks.
    We gleefully make lists of the things, people, and circumstances for which we are thankful but fail to recognize who we are thanking.
    Before 1776 Thanksgiving was a time set aside to thank God for all that He has blessed us with.
    Thanksgiving was the first religious holiday officially recognized by our government.
    For most of our history, it wasn’t just, “Thanksgiving Day” but was, “A Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer”.
    The more we turn our backs on our history, roots, and foundation, the faster our spiral to disaster turns.

    • Rich…

      Let me just take a guess here…YOU didn’t read all the way to the END of the article did you???

  8. RAISE A GLASS! MAY GOD BLESS AMERICA! Blessings and Prayers for Our New Nation!!

    (Its Coming, I can Smell It…:) )

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