History of Thanksgiving in AmericaAccording to most historians, the Pilgrims never observed an annual Thanksgiving feast in autumn. In the year 1621, they did celebrate a feast near Plymouth, Massachusetts, following their first harvest. But this feast most people refer to as the first Thanksgiving was never repeated. Oddly enough, most devoutly religious pilgrims observed a day of thanksgiving with prayer and fasting, not feasting. Yet even though this harvest feast was never called Thanksgiving by the pilgrims of 1621, it has become the model for the traditional Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States. Firsthand accounts of this feast, by Edward Winslow and William Bradford, can be found on Pilgrim Hall Museum.
Timeline of Thanksgiving in America• 1541 - Spanish explorer, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, led a thanksgiving Communion celebration at the Palo Duro Canyon, West Texas.
• 1565 - Pedro Menendez de Aviles and 800 settlers gathered for a meal with the Timucuan Indians in the Spanish colony of St. Augustine, Florida.
• 1621 - Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrated a harvest feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
• 1630 - Settlers observed the first Thanksgiving of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in New England on July 8, 1630.
• 1777 - George Washington and his army on the way to Valley Forge, stopped in blistering weather in open fields to observe the first Thanksgiving of the new United States of America.
• 1789 - President Washington declared November 26, 1789, as a national day of "thanksgiving and prayer."
• 1800s - The annual presidential thanksgiving proclamations ceased for 45 years in the early 1800s.
• 1863 - President Abraham Lincoln resumed the tradition of Thanksgiving proclamations in 1863. Since this date, Thanksgiving has been observed annually in the United States.
• 1941 - President Roosevelt established the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.