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For Thanksgiving, A Story of John F. Kennedy, Pilgrims, and the Commonwealth of Virginia


This holiday, here’s a little known story about Thanksgiving in America, courtesy of TIME magazine.

Many schoolchildren learn that the first Thanksgiving occurred between Wampanoag Indians and English Pilgrims at the Plymouth Colony in 1621.

John F. Kennedy even mentioned Plymouth as the site of the first Thanksgiving in a speech. When he made this declaration, a Virginia Senator objected, saying the first Thanksgiving was actually celebrated in Virginia in 1619, two years before the Plymouth celebration.

Kennedy’s special assistant Arthur Schlesinger Jr. investigated. “You are quite right,” he wrote to the Virginian, adding, “I can only plead unconquerable New England bias on the part of the White House staff.”

Schlesinger made sure Kennedy didn’t make the same error again. In 1963, the Massachusetts native began his Thanksgiving proclamation by recognizing Virginia and Massachusetts.