The pilgrims arrived in North America in December 1620. By the fall of 1621 only half of the Plymouth Pilgrims, who had sailed on the Mayflower, survived. The survivors, thankful to be alive, decided to give a thanksgiving feast. The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days.
The Pilgrim leader, Governor William Bradford, had organized the first Thanksgiving. He invited the neighboring Wampanoag Indians and their chief Massasoit to join in the feast. The Wampanoag had taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land for local crops.
• President George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in the year 1789 and again in 1795.
• Abraham Lincoln issued a ‘Thanksgiving Proclamation’ on third October 1863 and officially set aside the last Thursday of November as the national day for Thanksgiving.