To all ye Pilgrims: Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, squashes, and garden vegetable, and has made the forest to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Plymouth Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings. — William Bradford, Nov. 29, 1623.
William Bradford (1590–1657) was the founder and leader of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts and served as the second Massachusetts governor, succeeding John Carver (1576–1621). His journal, “Of Plymouth Plantation,” is an important early source in the history of the founding of the American colonies. Perhaps his greatest legacy is this public pronouncement as governor which has ever since been enshrined as the uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving.