There can be countless records of the same event, and while many times each record is different, there are also incidents in which one needs to know every record to piece together what really happened. The story of the first Thanksgiving takes place in 1621, and is generally known as a meal that was shared between the Pilgrims and the Indians. For the Pilgrims, this was a harvest festival, much like one they would have had in England. For the Indians, it was a show of hospitality from the Pilgrims, similar to what they would expect from visiting another Indian tribe. With being told only that, one can already see that there are already two very different histories of the same event recorded. Of greater interest, perhaps, are the different eye-witness accounts of two Pilgrims and a History Channel documentary of the same events.
The first eye-witness we’re interested in was a man by the name of Edward Winslow. Winslow was perhaps best known for his diplomatic work between the Pilgrims and many Indian tribes. Winslow’s description of the first Thanksgiving tells of a joyous time, when the Pilgrims and Indians feasted and hunted together. It’s mentioned in his description that there was a great amount of food, as opposed to the harshness of the year prior. He makes special note of the presence of Massasoit, the leader of the Indians, who, along with his ninety-some men, were hosted by the Pilgrims for three days.
William Bradford, another eye-witness of the first Thanksgiving, was the governor of the Plymouth colony. He had been elected earlier in 1621, after the sudden death of the previous governor. Bradford’s account tells that, after terrible sickness destroyed nearly half of the Pilgrims the previous winter and spring, those that remained were healthy and strong. He goes on to explain how everyone had busied themselves with gathering their harvest, hunting, fishing, and preparing for the coming winter. The most prominent feature in Bradford’s account is his comment that, regardless of how ridiculous the Pilgrims claims about how plentiful their food was, all of those claims were indeed true.
The History Channel’s Desperate Crossing tells the story of the Pilgrims, their journey to Plymouth, their horrible first year, and finally, the first Thanksgiving. Desperate Crossing follows the accounts of both Winslow and Bradford fairly well, but begins to deviate...