Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

The year before the 1st Thanksgiving

History, Holidays, Religion

Most people are not aware that the Pilgrims arrived in the new world in November of 1620--one year before the day we commemorate as the first Thanksgiving.

The Pilgrims had endured a 9 week ocean journey for one reason only, freedom. Freedom to worship God in their own way.

They contracted with the Virginia Company and were to have established a colony in northern Virginia. But when land was sighted, they found themselves in a wilderness "many leagues to the north" at a place we call today, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. At last, their journey come to an end. The Pilgrims knelt on the deck of the Mayflower during their morning prayer time and thanked God for their safe arrival.

Now what? 

Some of the "strangers" (non pilgrims) quickly saw this as an opportunity to be a law unto themselves. "They would not be bound by the Virginia patent." Elder Brewster, the Pilgrim's religious leader, saw this as unacceptable and so the Mayflower Compact came to be.

"If the Mayflower passengers were not under the laws of Virginia, then they would make their own law, and agree to abide strictly by it."* The Compact:

In the Name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal; subjects of our dread sovereign Lord King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain...having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and the colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience... In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11 of November...1620.

From this simple mutual agreement, took form the first American Commonwealth, the beginning "of government of the people, by the people, for the people."

...It had been a difficult journey. Bradford tells us that, of the 103 Mayflower Pilgrim disembarking passengers, 51 of these died during the first New England winter. However, this stalwart band of settlers who had braved the dangerous seas and inhospitable New England shores, to live their lives in harmony with God's Holy Scriptures, preserved in prayer, obedience and praise to Almighty God.** 

The Pilgrims lived aboard the Mayflower during that first winter as there was little opportunity to build individual houses. The able men went ashore to explore and build a common house to be used to store their goods.

By Christmas the large house was about finished. "...provisions and ammunition were brought ashore and stored in it. In the remaining space the sick beds lay end to end."

At times there were few well enough to tend to the sick, but tend them they did. Be they their Christian brothers and sisters or the Mayflower crew members, who were not at all kind to the Pilgrims, they were all treated with tender mercies by the Pilgrim people. William Bradford writes:

[They] spared no pains, night or day, but with abundance of toyle and hazard of their owne health, fetched them woode, made them fires, drest them meat, made their beads, washed their lothsome cloaths, cloathed and unclothed them; in a word did all ye homly and necessarie offices for them which dainty & quesie stomacks can not endure to hear named; & all this willingly and cherefully, without any grudging in ye least, whewing herein their true love unto their friends...

In the fires and ice of that first winter, their spirits were steel-tempered to build a nation of men and women who would never turn back in quest of freedom and justice and brotherhood.*

The Pilgrims had a rough first year. Is it any wonder they celebrated with a feast of Thanksgiving to the Almighty to mark their first harvest and first year in their new land?

A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours. We have much to be thankful for. In addition to the material blessings I have, I thank God for these strong, "steel-tempered" godly men and women who had the grit to survive. They set our country on the path of liberty and for that, I am grateful.


* The Landing of the Pilgrims, by James Daugherty, a Landmark Book 

**The Rewriting of America's History, by Cahterine Millard 

George Washington's Thanksgiving  Proclamation


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