As a student in America’s public school system you are taught “Thanksgiving” began on the shores of Plymouth, in present-day Massachusetts, in the year of 1621. However, historical documents describe an earlier record of a “Day of Thanksgiving” celebrated on the shores of the James River, in 1619 when a group of 38 English settlers arrived at Berkeley Hundred on the North bank of the James River, near Herring Creek in an area then known as Charles Cittie.
On the day of their arrival, December 4, 1619, Captain John Woodleaf held a service of thanksgiving and declared, “Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.”
The Charter of Berkeley Plantation specifies that “the first day of its occupants arrival shall be observed yearly as a “day of thanksgiving to God”. Berkley Hundred is located about 20 miles upstream from Jamestown, where the first permanent settlement of Virginia was established on May 14, 1607.