Thanksgiving for Avoiding an Explosive Situation
Thanksgiving was celebrated in England prior to the pilgrims coming to America. The first annual day of thanksgiving instituted in England was for the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot. On November 5, 1605, Guy Fawkes was captured standing guard over 36 barrels of gunpowder hidden in a vault under the House of Lords. He and his accomplices planned to blow up Parliament on its opening day, with the king, the royal family, the House of Lords, and the Commons in attendance. The leadership of England would be destroyed in one massive explosion. In this way the Catholic conspirators hoped to rid England of the disease of Protestantism! That the conspirators were discovered before any harm was done was certainly cause for thanksgiving. The traitors were arrested and executed, and parliament ordered November 5 to be kept as a "public thanksgiving to Almighty God." This was to be an annual day of thanksgiving, "that unfeigned thankfulness may never be forgotten, and that all ages to come may yield praises to God's divine majesty for the same." Guy Fawkes Day continues to be celebrated in England.
Chronology of Thanksgiving
1605--Annual day of thanksgiving proclaimed in England for discovery of the Gunpowder Plot.
July 23, 1623--First day of thanksgiving proclaimed in Plymouth colony....for rain after a drought.
17th century--Repeated days of Thanksgiving in New England for special events, such as friends arriving safely from England, protection from Indians, etc.
By 18th century, annual springtime fasts and autumn Thanksgiving days proclaimed in New England.
December 18, 1777--Continental Congress proclaimed first national day of Thanksgiving for Gen. Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga.
November 26, 1789--G. Washington proclaims a national thanksgiving day for adoption of Constitution.
February 18, 1815--President Madison called for National Thanksgiving at end of War of 1812.
By early nineteenth century, most States were proclaiming autumnal days of Thanksgiving.
1846--Sarah Hale begins advocating a national Thanksgiving celebration, believing this spiritual means would unify and preserve the nation.
September 6, 1863--Abraham Lincoln issues a Thanksgiving proclamation after Gettysburg.
November 26, 1863--Lincoln issues first annual Thanksgiving proclamation, continued by presidents to the present day.
July 4, 1876--President Grant proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving for a century of blessings on the nation.