Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is fast approaching in the United States and many Americans, myself included, will be roasting turkeys, making stuffing, and baking pies on the fourth Thursday of November. As most of you know the first Thanksgiving feast was celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621 after completing their first year in what is today Massachusetts. These immigrants had a bountiful harvest and must have been happy to still be alive.

While the Pilgrim story looms large in American history, they were not the first English immigrants to settle permanently in what would become the United States. The first English settlement was established at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. When I taught the first half of the US History survey, I used to show a picture of the Little People Thanksgiving Celebration set and ask my students, "Where are the Jamestown Little People?" After the laughter died down (they couldn't believe I was showing pictures of toys during lecture), most began to realize that it was a serious question. Why are all the stories and celebrations in the United States about the Pilgrims who came 13 years after the Jamestown settlers? Many students came up with the same points discussed in a 2007 In Our Time episode entitled Pilgrim Fathers. Find it at the In Our Time History Archive here or search iTunes for IOTH: Pilgrim Fathers.

I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving (or good weekend for my international readers). The Scottish Emigration Blog will return next week.

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