Ben Franklin - Actual Origin of Thanksgiving



One of the many things I’m thankful for are my mentors. Included, at least indirectly, is Benjamin Franklin.

Ben Franklin was an intelligent fanatic. From publishing and innovating science to being one of the founding fathers of the United States, through his virtue of industry he excelled at them all. And through all of his activities he made an indelible mark on the world today.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share Ben Franklin’s story of the actual origin of the holiday. Rarely is it told this way.

It also reminds us the importance of substituting zero-sum mindsets (fasting, complaining & suffering) with additive-sum ones (plentiful-gratitude).

There is a tradition that in the planning of New England, the first settlers met with many difficulties and hardships; as is generally the case when a civilized people attempt to establish themselves in a wilderness country.

Being piously disposed they sought relief from heaven by laying their wants and distresses before the Lord, in frequent set days of fasting and prayer. Constant meditation and discourse of these subjects kept their minds gloomy and discontented, and, like the children of Israel, there were many disposed to return to that Egypt which persecution had induced them to abandon.

At length, when it was proposed in the assembly to proclaim another fast, a farmer of plain sense rose, and remarked that the inconveniences they suffered, and concerning which they had so often wearied heaven with their complains, were not so great as they might have expected, and were diminishing every day as the colony strengthened; that the earth began to reward their labor, and to furnish liberally for their subsistence; and above all, that they were there in the full enjoyment of liberty, civil and religious.

He, therefore, thought that it would be more becoming the gratitude they owed to the Divine Being, if, instead of a fast, they should proclaim a thanksgiving. His advice was taken, and from that day to this they have, in every year, observed circumstances of public felicity sufficient to furnish employment for a Thanksgiving Day, which is therefore constantly ordered and religiously observed.

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