A Happy Real American Thanksgiving

Forget the crack-brained and ne'er-do-well Pilgrims and Puritans, who, because they could not get along with anyone, came to America, where they hoped to enjoy the freedom to persecute and kill anyone who disagreed with their miserable way of life.  Forget, too,  the race-traitor Squanto, who betrayed his people and culture to welcome aliens into his country.  Forget the bogus national holiday reinvented to celebrate the Ein Reich, ein Vereinigung, ein Führer principles of Lincoln and the Roosevelts.  You can hear all about their tedious self-serving myths on National Public Radio or in National Public Schools.

A story worth telling, however, is how, once upon a time, some footloose Englishmen came to the New World seeking easy gold, free land, and the right to spit tobacco when and where they wanted.  As good Anglicans, these adventurers, roughnecks, and proto-cavaliers were too busy minding their business to worry to much about minding yours. The few who who survived the initial attempts to settle various spots in Virginia, beginning with Jamestown, were reminded of their own weakness and from time to time their leaders decided it was time to give thanks to the Almighty for letting them survive in this savage land.  So, with one accord, the men brought what game they could shoot, along with their jugs of corn-squeezings and stashes of tobacco, whipped out their fiddles, and had themselves a great time.

On these festive occasions, one or another would lead the assembly in prayer, thanking their Creator that he had not seen fit to make them Puritans who despised all the good things He had given them.  Being decent Englishmen, they also thanked Him for making them English and for permitting them to persist in their English language, English laws and customs, and English culture. Some renegade from Switzerland, who piped up and said something about America being a city on a hill, recommended they get a royal charter to make everyone celebrate a national holiday in November.  The good old boys of Virginia,  all with one accord, drove him out of the settlement.  Some say, he settled with the Indians, who celebrated their own style of Thanksgiving by feasting off the meat they had carved off his carcass after having had several days of fun with dull knives.

Yes, this is my own exercise in myth-making, but there is more truth than in the National Public ideology of both parties.

Being Anglicans--with a sprinkling, perhaps, of  good old god-fearing Lutherans  and (here I'm trying to be generous) recovering Presbyterians, they kept their prayers short and to the point, and knowing that better men than themselves had given expression to their sentiments, they said together this prayer:

ALMIGHTY God, Father of all mercies, we thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men.  We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful, and that we shew forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives; by giving up ourselves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory, world without end.


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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

5 Responses

  1. Allen Wilson says:

    The part about the Swiss renegade is hilarious, but of course it’s not over the top, historically speaking. I’m drawing a blank there. If he’s a specific person, who is the Swiss supposed to be?

  2. Allen Wilson says:

    I’m glad your being generous. My ancestors were among those horrible Presbyterians, who of course would go on to become the driving force of the big rebellion, then went Baptist, probably because the lobsterbacks burnt all their churches.

  3. David Wihowski says:

    Nothing like a good laugh to aid the post-feast digestion!

  4. Frank DeRienzo says:

    Thanks for that. When, prior to our feasting on a perfectly grilled turkey, I prayed the general prayer of thanksgiving from BCP that you quote, one of my daughters, Eliza suggested that I was invoking a generational Cramnerian spirit. One of my other daughters, Amara, an appreciator of the ordinariate, replied that the schism is over, and on it went… Happily we did not discuss contemporary politics or any aspect of depraved pop-culture the entire day – even after the cigars were lit.

  5. Konstantin Solodov says:

    to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory, world without end.
    – without Amen?

    renegade from Switzerland
    – the interesting choice of renegade – from the nation which didn’t know absolute monarchy.