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Meet the American who gave the nation our Thanksgiving origin story: Pilgrim Edward Winslow



(SAI Bureau) It is the first and greatest American adventure story. A small band of Christian devotees, persecuted in their homeland, sought refuge in a forbidden wilderness across the vast ocean aboard a leaky ship in the autumn of 1620. Against all odds, following near death at sea, amid privation, disease and frightening loss of life, they planted the seeds of a daring new society.
Within a few generations their descendants brazenly challenged the world monarchial order with the revolutionary statement that "all men are created equal" and fought to establish the first great constitutional republic. It became a haven for people just like them: the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. They are the Pilgrims.Most everything we know about their first year in what's now Plymouth, Massachusetts, from a contemporary, boots-on-the-ground, first-person source comes from one man. His name is Edward Winslow. "He's a major figure in the Pilgrim story," Tom Begley, director of collections at Plimoth Patuxet Museums (known until 2020 as Plimoth Plantation), told Fox News Digital."He had the foresight to write down their story and share it with others."Winslow wrote a lengthy letter to a friend back in England that has gone down in history as "Mourt’s Relation."
It is the only account, written as it happened, of the Pilgrims’ first year in Plymouth. It is still in print, available on Amazon or at your local bookstore.
"Mourt's Relation" includes Winslow's brief, undated description of a three-day celebration in the autumn of 1621, after "our harvest being gotten in," during which the English settlers and a much larger group of Wampanoag friends feast on fowl and deer. It is the first Thanksgiving. Winslow’s account is the only version of the origin story of our national holiday written by Somebody Who Was There. Winslow made many other contributions to the Pilgrim narrative.
He signed the Mayflower Compact, the first self-governing covenant among New World settlers, as the ship floated in Cape Cod Bay on Nov. 11, 1620. He was the first Pilgrim to meet Wampanoag chief Ousamequin, better known in history as Massasoit. Winslow informed Massasoit that his people desired to have peace with him and engage in trading," James and Patricia Scott Deetz wrote in their 2000 history, "The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love and Death in Plymouth Colony." The two men bridged a cross-cultural relationship that benefited both sides for several decades before the outbreak of King Phillip's War in 1675.Winslow also gives us our only look at the face of an actual Pilgrim. He sat for a portrait in London in 1651 after returning to England to serve its government under Protestant Parliamentarian Oliver Cromwell following the English Civil War. All other Pilgrim paintings and portraits were imagined after their time on Earth. "History records no nobler venture for faith and freedom than that of this Pilgrim band," reads the tomb on a hill overlooking Plymouth Harbor today. It's the site where the settlers buried their many dead that first winter in the New World. Winslow gave future generations our eyewitness account of that noble venture.