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Historian Bernard Bailyn In The On Point Studios

This article is more than 5 years old.

Our Nov. 18 hour on the untold and often unpleasant history of America's early colonies featured Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Bernard Bailyn. His book, “The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America — The Conflict of Civilization, 1600-1675," just came out in paperback a year after its initial publication.

Seeing as Professor Bailyn is a Boston-area local, we were lucky enough to get him in our studios for a conversation with our host Tom Ashbrook.

Historian Bernard Bailyn in the On Point studios. (Jesse Costa / WBUR)
Historian Bernard Bailyn in the On Point studios. (Jesse Costa / WBUR)

It was a fascinating hour worth a listen, especially as you prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday next week. But it's worth noting, however, that the famous 'first Thanksgiving' we're all taught to remember in school (via such holiday classics as "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving) isn't quite accurate, Bailyn told us.

'It was common practice to celebrate Thanksgiving when good things happened," Bailyn said. There was not a single, autumnal Thanksgiving that set precedent for all future Thanksgiving. The formal national holiday as we know it has been celebrated since 1863. The Thanksgivings of colonial times were more about celebrating the sheer good news of being alive, Bailyn said.

"It was a miracle that they survived."

What do you know about our first Thanksgivings? Leave us your thoughts below, or on Facebook, Tumblr and @OnPointRadio.

This program aired on November 18, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

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