Benjamin Harrison V, Berkeley Hundred Plantation, General Daniel Adams Butterfield, General George Brinton McClellan

The Berkeley Hundred Plantation At Harrison’s Landing – A Residence That Thomas Jefferson Once Modified Many Years After The First American Thanksgiving Was Held On The Plantation’s Land Along The James River

On December 4th, 1619, Captain John Woodliffe and 38 English settlers from the ship “Margaret” landed on the present day site of the Berkeley Hundred Plantation. On the day of their landing the first “Virginia Thanksgiving Festival” was held off of the shore of the James River.

The exterior of the “Thanksgiving Monument” that faces the James River.

During the American Revolution, Benjamin Harrison V, one of the signers of the “Declaration of Independence” resided at the Berkeley One Hundred Plantation. In response British troops occupied the plantation and threw all of the colonial era furniture outside to be burned.

The first of the 10 United States Presidents danced on the floors of the main hall for the residential building of the Berkeley Hundred Plantation, which is in between both the kitchen and the carriage buildings. While Thomas Jefferson visited the plantation, he added decorative wood to multiple rooms on the ground level of the residential building.

During the Civil War, over 100,000 Union troops were stationed along Harrison Landing and at Fort Harrison. President Abraham Lincoln came to visit the Union encampment and ended up firing scores of soldiers, including General George Brinton McClellan, in the hall of the Berkeley Plantation were ten presidents had previously danced in.

Both the Union and the Confederacy established their own balloon corps during the war. The first instance of a balloon being utilized, by the Union army for battlefield surveillance, was when a balloon was launched from the Berkeley Plantation to observe the Confederate forces outside of Richmond.

After the “Seven Days Battles”, that occurred during the Peninsular Campaign, General Daniel Adams Butterfield wrote the song “Taps”. In July 1862, “Taps” was performed for the first time at Harrison Landing and the song was soon replicated by many other Union encampments. Near the present day “Thanksgiving Memorial” is another memorial dedicated to the first performance of “Taps” at the grounds of the Berkeley Hundred Plantation.

Berkeley Hundred Plantation

October 3rd, 1789 – President George Washington Issues A Thanksgiving Proclamation From New York City

On October 3rd, 1789, a period of 170 years after the first Thanksgiving on the Berkeley Hundred Plantation in Charles City, Virginia, President George Washington issued his own “Thanksgiving Proclamation” while staying in New York City, New York. Washington’s proclamation is as follows:

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.