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Diversity Preservation Religious Liberty

1619 religious observance of thanks at Berkeley Plantation

AE Curator May 09
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Was the first English Thanksgiving held in Virginia in 1619? In 1931, historian Lyon G. Tyler read records that document the voyage by Captain Woodlief to the New World with instructions ordering its settlers to celebrate a yearly “day of thanksgiving” — two years before that other one in Massachusetts. By the 1950s, Berkeley Plantation’s claim as the first official English Thanksgiving became a local cause célèbre. Virginia was given co-billing with Plymouth in President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 Thanksgiving Proclamation, which gave credence to Virginia’s claim.

Location: Charles City
Image: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

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