It was also about this time - in 1854, to be exact - that Bradford's history book of Plymouth Plantation resurfaced. The book increased interest in the Pilgrims, and Mrs. Hale and others latched onto the fact he mentioned that the colonists had killed wild turkeys during the autumn.
In her magazine Hale wrote appealing articles about roasted turkeys, savory stuffing, and pumpkin pies - all the foods that today's holiday meals are likely to contain.
In the process, she created holiday "traditions" that share few similarities with the original feast in 1621.
In 1858, Hale petitioned the president of the United States to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. She wrote: "Let this day, from this time forth, as long as our Banner of Stars floats on the breeze, be the grand Thanksgiving holiday of our nation, when the noise and tumult of worldliness may be exchanged for the length of the laugh of happy children, the glad greetings of family reunion, and the humble gratitude of the Christian heart."
Five years later, Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."
"[Hale's] depiction is wrong much more often than it's right," says Nancy Brennan, president of Plimoth Plantation. "When this idea [of the first Thanksgiving] caught on, it became a big, popular subject for prints and books and paintings, all of which used whatever people could gather about what the environment might have been like in 1621."
With little mention of the native population, the Wampanoag presence was virtually relegated to the background, and the Pilgrim presence promoted to the fore.