Today in 1620 the British ship Mayflower docked at what is today Plymouth, Massachusetts, and 102 Puritans (later labeled Pilgrims) began Plymouth Colony. The Mayflower anchored at modern-day Provincetown, Cape Cod November 11; it was not until around December 10 that a suitable bay, or harbor, with a cleared area was discovered. Harsh winter weather prevented the Pilgrims from coming ashore until December 18, though scouting parties explored the area.
The site was previously an Indian village abandoned by the Wampanoag several years earlier. The winter of 1620-1621 was particularly brutal; 50 of the 102 original settlers died. The Wampanoag , especially in the person of English-speaking Squanto, aided the Pilgrims and taught them to plant crops, mostly corn and beans that were vital to their survival.
The Mayflower and crew returned to England on April 5, 1621. Plymouth eventually became prosperous and was assimilate into the Massachusetts Bay Association in 1691, ending Plymouth as an independent colony.
Today in 1777 the United States celebrated the first thanksgiving as a nation, observing the victory at the Battle of Saratoga in October, 1777.
Congress proclaimed the holiday November 1:
“It is therefore recommended to the Legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES, to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for solemn THANKSGIVING and PRAISE; That at one Time and with one Voice the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor.”
As colonies, thanksgiving holidays were observed individually or as a part of the British Empire. What makes this particular holiday significant is it was observed as an all-inclusive country, effectively establishing the American identity.
The Battle of Saratoga also convinced the French king and his Foreign Minister that the US could possibly win their independence and led to France recognizing the US as a country on December 17; which in turn led to a formal military and trade alliance with France, February 5, 1778.
Today in 1865 Secretary of State William H. Seward proclaimed the Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution adopted.
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 declared freedom of slaves in ten Confederate states in rebellion but did not free any slaves in the border states nor did it abolish slavery. The Proclamation could be viewed as a temporary war measure. Lincoln and his supporters were convinced that a constitutional amendment was necessary, the first in over 60 years.
The Thirteenth Amendment was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864; passed by the House on January 31, 1865; and adopted by the states December 6, 1865.
Happy birthday Steven Allen Spielberg, film director, producer, screen writer and Academy Award nominee and recipient, born today in 1946 at Cincinnati, Ohio.
Spielberg’s foot and hand prints are embedded in cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood and has a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Forbe’s has reported Spielberg’s wealth at $3.2 billion dollars.
Happy birthday Tyrus Raymond “Ty” Cobb, major league baseball player, who was born today in 1886 at Narrows, Georgia.
Cobb had a remarkable career of something like 90 baseball records, some which stand today. He was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 with the most votes of any player, 222 out of 226. He spent 22 seasons with the American League Detroit Tigers beginning in 1905 and retired playing for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1928. Cobb’s reputation for “bad boy” behavior often made more news than his baseball profession.
Ty Cobb died July 17, 1961 at Atlanta, Georgia. He was age 74. Cobb is interned at Royston, Georgia.
His Ty Cobb Education Foundation has distributed over $11 million in scholarships to date.