A Thanksgiving Message from the General Society of Mayflower Descendants

On this November 26, 2015, as you carve the turkey, and look around the table at your loved ones, there are important lessons you can teach both young and old about our American Thanksgiving holiday. 

When the Pilgrims traveled to America on the Mayflower, before coming ashore, they wrote a Compact, or an agreement, on how they would govern themselves. That document inspired the Founding Fathers as they drafted our United States Constitution. The Pilgrims are the first colonists during the Colonial period who practiced self-governance.

The Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians wrote a treaty, once they made contact in New England, that allowed them to live together peacefully for fifty years. Plymouth Colony stood out admirably for its consistent attempt to treat Native Americans fairly in the courts, for paying Natives for land, and for allowing the courts to settle differences between the Pilgrims and Indians.

As you enjoy your delicious meal on our national Thanksgiving holiday, you are repeating a celebration the Pilgrims shared with the Native Americans in 1621, one year after they arrived in America. After gathering a bountiful harvest, a three-day Thanksgiving celebration was enjoyed with 90 members of the Wampanoag Tribe including Chief Massasoit. Their thanksgiving included food, games, and fellowship. 

In honor of the 1621 celebration between the Pilgrims and Native Americans, on October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring the last Thursday in November to be a day of “thanksgiving and praise.” 

Hopefully, discussing the Pilgrim story will create meaningful conversation around your table on Thanksgiving Day. There are some 10 million people in America who are Mayflower descendants so it is important that we not forget this unique American story. The Pilgrim story is about how we became who we are. The Pilgrim story is America’s story.

The General Society of Mayflower Descendants is a lineage society that has some 30,000 members and welcomes anyone who researches and proves lineage to the Mayflower Pilgrims. In addition to genealogy research, our mission is to educate the public as to why the Pilgrims were important, how they helped shape western civilization, and what their story means today. 

Lea Sinclair Filson, Governor General
General Society Mayflower Descendants (GSMD)


Click here to view a PDF of the September 2015 issue of The Mayflower Quarterly. Or, you may page through the issue below by clicking the > icon on the right side of the page. If you would like a larger view of the issue simply hover your cursor over the center of the issue and click "Click to read". This will launch the document in an external viewer on your computer. To return to this page from the full screen version all you need to do is to press your escape key, [esc].


The Mayflower Society publishes the Mayflower Quarterly. This magazine contains the latest news of the Society, including photographs of events and members involved in activities.

The Mayflower Quarterly also includes articles related to the Pilgrim experience, and has carefully researched genealogies of Mayflower families. A subscription to this publication is included in your membership.

Subscriptions to the Mayflower Quarterly are available to non-members at an annual rate of $15.00 US. Checks payable to GSMD may be sent to the address at the bottom of this page.