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The First Thanksgiving Was Actually in St. Augustine

55 years before the Pilgrims even arrived in Plymouth, the first true Thanksgiving took place in St. Augustine, Florida.
Enjoy Secrets of Spanish Florida? For more on early Florida settlements, check out the 4-hour extended version of “America’s Untold Story” now available on DVD.

[Gregorian chanting] NARRATOR: Menéndez christened the new settlement San Augustin, or St. Augustine.

It was September 8th, 1565.

ERIC JOHNSON: Traditionally, the Spanish representative of the King would go to the flag, plant the flag in the ground and proclaim the land in the name of the king.

He, however, went over to Father Lopez and knelt down and kissed the cross.

He proclaimed the land in Nombre de Dios, in the name of God before the name of his king.

DR. MICHAEL GANNON: And Lopez observed the natives imitated all they saw done.

Now there''s a picture for you.

NARRATOR: Father Lopez then conducted a mass of Thanksgiving and Menéndez ordered that a meal be prepared for everyone, including the natives.

This was 55 years before the Pilgrims even arrived in Plymouth.

A few years ago Dr. Michael Gannon drew fire when he called this meal the true First Thanksgiving.

DR. MICHAEL GANNON: There was a guy who called me from WBZ in Boston.

He said, While I''m talking, do you realize that there is an emergency meeting of selectmen at Plymouth to contend with this new information that there were Spaniards in Florida before there were Englishmen in Massachusetts?'' And then he said Well, you know how you''ve become known up here in New England?

I said no'' - he said, The Grinch Who Stole Thanksgiving.'' [laughs]


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