Virginia…home to the first English Settlement, the first President, and (really!) the first Thanksgiving

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That’s right, the first Thanksgiving. We know the Puritans have gotten all the press and PR for this, but the first Thanksgiving was actually held at Berkeley Plantation in 1619.

If you want to be really accurate, a thanksgiving was held in 1607 at Cape Henry.

If you want to be really accurate, an even earlier thanksgiving was held in 1607 at Cape Henry.

It was John Woodlief, the captain of the ship The Margaret, and his 38 passengers who proclaimed: “Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacion in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.” (This is also a good example of how spelling has changed over the years.) They had landed at Berkeley Hundred, later known as Berkeley Plantation, to help support the plantation. Their first Thanksgiving celebration was on December 4, 1619…a full year before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

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Berkeley Hundred, now called Berkeley Plantation

In 1963, President Kennedy, who hailed from Massachusetts, proclaimed that the first Thanksgiving was held at Berkeley.

So why do the Pilgrims get all the press? It’s actually a pretty simple explanation: those who win the war get to write the history. It was northern history writers who, after the War Between the States, wrote about Plymouth, and overlooked the southern plantation.

So we hope you enjoy Thanksgiving and it’s OK not to wear Puritan hats. You can even plan way ahead and attend the Virginia Thanksgiving Festival next year.

It must be true because it's on a plaque

It must be true because it’s on a plaque

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