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Rediscovering Thanksgiving

Melanie Kirkpatrick
Melanie Kirkpatrick

Three hundred ninety-five years ago, the Pilgrims and Native Americans joined together for a three-day feast that has come to be known as the First Thanksgiving. The gathering pointed the way to the diverse people we have become.

Thanksgiving is Americans’ oldest tradition. The quiz below, from the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University in Ohio, provides an opportunity to test your knowledge of the original Thanksgiving and subsequent observances of the holiday throughout our history.

1. Ninety Indian men attended the First Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621. What was the name of their tribal confederation?

A. Wampanoag

B. Apache

C. Iroquois

D. Sioux

2. Eighteen Pilgrim wives sailed on the Mayflower. How many survived until the time of the First Thanksgiving?

A. Ten

B. None

C. Sixteen

D. Four

3. What food did the Indians contribute to the First Thanksgiving?

A. Turkey

B. Venison

C. Salmon

D. Oysters

4. In 1926 President Calvin Coolidge received from Mississippi a gift of a live animal with a “toothsome flavor” intended for the First Family’s Thanksgiving dinner. What was the animal?

A. Turkey

B. Deer

C. Rabbit

D. Raccoon

5. The “godmother of Thanksgiving” was a 19th-century editor who campaigned for decades in support of a national day of thanks. What was her name?

A. Harriet Beecher Stowe

B. Sarah Josepha Hale

C. Louisa May Alcott

D. Lydia Marie Child

6. Which college teams faced off in the first Thanksgiving football game in the 1870s, starting a nationwide mania for Thanksgiving Day football?

A. Harvard vs. Dartmouth

B. Princeton vs. Rutgers

C. Princeton vs. Yale

D. Columbia vs. Harvard

7. Which president refused to issue a Thanksgiving proclamation on the grounds that the Constitution prohibits a president from “intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises.”

A. Thomas Jefferson

B. George Washington

C. John Adams

D. Abraham Lincoln

8. The word “succotash” comes from the Narragansett Indian word “sohquttahhash.” What is it?

A. Grilled venison

B. A stew of corn and beans

C. A clambake

D. A kind of pumpkin

9. Religious days of thanksgiving have a long history in the Judeo-Christian tradition. In what is now the United States, several locations lay claim to being the site of the first “true” Thanksgiving Day, as celebrated by European settlers who arrived before the Pilgrims. Which of the following make such claims?

A. San Elizario, Texas — near El Paso

B. St. Petersburg, Florida

C. Berkeley Plantation, Virginia

D. All of the above

10. What year was the date of Thanksgiving codified into law as the fourth Thursday of November?

A. 1901

B. 1967

C. 1941

D. 1863

ANSWERS: 1-A, 2-D, 3-B, 4-D, 5-B, 6-C, 7-A, 8-B, 9-D, 10-C

Melanie Kirkpatrick is a senior fellow of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University.

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