The First Thanksgiving
As we prepare for our upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, we all think we know the Thanksgiving story, but do we? and who was Squanto?
His name was Squanto. In 1605 He was living in the Plymouth Rock area with his family in their Village. When Squanto was just a young boy, he and four other boys were captured from their village by Captain George Waymouth and taken back to England. Captain Waymouth’s plan was to capture some Indian natives in America and teach them how to speak English so that they could communicate with information about their area, and just where the best place would be for the English to establish new colonies.
Finally, in 1614, Captain John Smith set sail on a voyage to America, and he agreed to take Squanto back to his home and his people. But when Squanto returned, his homecoming didn’t last long. Sailing on another ship with Smith’s expedition was Captain Thomas Hunt, and he had only one thing in mind – money. So as soon as Smith had left the area, Captain Hunt made his way back down the coast, and lured Squanto and 20 other of the braves to come on board his ship. And then Captain Hunt made his way to Malaga, a port off the coast of Spain, which was well known for its brutal slave trade – and Squanto and the others were sold as slaves.
But something quite miraculous happened. A local monastery had actually gathered together enough money to buy a few of the soon to be slaves. And one of these was Squanto. They bought him and unbelievably set him free. How could any of them know then what an important part Squanto would play in our Nation’s history.
For a short time, Squanto lived at the monastery and learned about the Christian faith. And finally, in 1619, Squanto was once again given the opportunity to go home, but when he stepped off the boat and made his way to his village, what he saw there was the most devastating blow of his life – not one member of his tribe was alive. While Squanto had been away, a terrible sickness had come to his village and had killed literally every man, woman, and child in his village.
For the next six months, Squanto wandered aimlessly. Then one day Squanto was told that a small group of peaceful English families was building a colony, believe it or not, where his own village had been. This small band of people we know as Pilgrims had just endured a terrible winter and almost half had died. They were sick and weak and had little food – it seemed clear they would not survive unless someone helped them – and Squanto made his way to their camp and saved their lives.
So, in October of 1621, when the Pilgrims decided to have a three-day feast, giving thanks to Almighty God for their deliverance, they invited Squanto as their special guest.
But just what happened to Squanto? Amazingly, after enduring all the hardships in his life and overcoming every obstacle, only two years after that first Thanksgiving was celebrated, Squanto was struck with a terrible fever, and he died.
And what did the Pilgrims think of this young man, Squanto? William Brewster, one of the first group of Pilgrims, in his diary wrote these words.
“Squanto was a special instrument of God for their good beyond any possible expectations.” They knew that Squanto had been sent to them by God.
What a story. What a Powerful God we have!