Front: The first legislative body to form on this continent was the assembly that met in Jamestown, Virginia June 19, 1619. In September of that year a group of settlers were dispatched to found a new settlement up the James River at Berkley Hundred. They were issued specific instructions by that same assembly, “that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantation in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept Holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.” This obligation was fulfilled in December of 1619 and the event has been celebrated annually ever since.
Back: Virginia Colony was settled in Jamestown in 1607. Study of the accounts of the period indicate many Days of Thanksgiving being observed prior to 1619. The importance of the date is reflected in the fact that the proclamation came from the First Legislative Assembly in North America. This was one full year before the Puritans arrived in Plymouth and two full years before they thought to give thanks. While Jamestown enjoyed a representative assembly and had a population of nearly two thousand, the 101 Puritans were starving because property was communal and some would not work as long as they were permitted to eat the fruit of the labor of others. And the Indians who kept them from starving were eventually butchered or sold into slavery.