Many Americans were taught in school that the tradition of Thanksgiving dates back to the pilgrims.
But, as The New York Times reports, the story most of us learned about the first Thanksgiving isn’t exactly accurate. In 1621 Pilgrims in Plymouth, MA, did indeed host a three-day feast that was attended by Wampanoag Indians. But this event wasn’t called “the First Thanksgiving,” until the 1830s. Abraham Lincoln finally made the holiday official in 1863 to celebrate Union Army victories.
What’s more, the reason the Plymouth colonists were able to settle their village so easily was because the local natives had already been decimated by plagues.
In addition, it’s often said that the Pilgrims came to America seeking religious freedom. It’s more accurate to say that they came here seeking to establish a religious theocracy.
As sociologist James Loewen notes, “That’s not exactly the same as coming here for religious freedom. It’s kind of coming here against religious freedom.”