From the small Court House they moved across the street to the larger Meeting House of
the First Church of Cambridge, the place from which the first independent Thanksgiving
proclamation would be issued. It was a long rectangular building, then 18 years old,
at a corner of what is now the Harvard Yard next to Harvard Square. A towering spire
topped off by a jaunty weathercock rose from its west end. Like most colonial meeting
houses, it served as a church on Sundays and a place for town meetings on weekdays.
The delegates entered under a one-story porch on the south side. Inside the 71x51 foot
hall, they were seated facing the long north wall with its pulpit surmounted by a large
The Congress convened there on Monday, October 17. On the following Friday, the 21st,
it was moved to set 3 o'clock in the afternoon as a time for considering the "propriety
of recommending a day of public thanksgiving throughout the province" and set 4 p.m. for
discussing an alternative proposal for a day of fasting and prayer.
However, they spent all day talking about avoiding the use of any East India tea whatsoever
and didn't get around to either.
The following morning, Saturday, October 22nd, in the second item of business, it was
ordered that the Hon. John Winthrop, the Rev. Joseph Wheeler and the Rev. Solomon Lombard
draw up a Thanksgiving resolution.
(Detail from the Copley portrait, courtesy of Harvard University)
All three were Harvard men. Professor Winthrop, a senior member of the Harvard faculty,
was one of the sixteen children of Judge Adam Winthrop and had been baptized by that
clergyman and first great American man of science, Cotton Mather. He had been elected
President of Harvard in January without his consent and having refused the honor, in
this very month of October he had turned the college administration over to the new
President. John Winthrop had been the head of his Harvard Freshman class at the age of
13, partly because of his father's distinction but also on his own merits. He was now one
of the foremost scientists of his day, ranking with his friend Franklin. He was one of the
men who had received a John Hancock suit.