Skip to comments.The Real Thanksgiving Story: A Failed Experiment in Socialism
Posted on 11/24/2013 11:26:19 AM PST by Mechanicos
The Real Thanksgiving Story
In the middle of December 1620 the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, leaving behind the sinfulness of the old world to make a new Jerusalem in America. Three years later, in November 1623, they had a great feast thanking God for getting them through an earlier famine, and now for a bountiful crop.
What had created the earlier famine and then the bountiful crops? The story is told in the diary of Governor Bradford, who was one of the elders of that early Puritan colony.
At first, they decided to turn their back on all the institutions of the England that had been their home. This included the institution of private property, which they declared to be the basis of greed, averse, and selfishness. Instead, they were determined to live the Platonic ideal of collectivism, in which all work would be done in common, with the rewards of their collective efforts evenly divided among the colonists. Farming was done in common, as well as housekeeping and child raising. This was supposed to lead to prosperity and brotherly love.
But their experiment in collectivism did not lead to prosperity or brotherly love. Rather, it created poverty and envy and slothfulness among most of the members of this little society. (Hmmmm...sound familiar?)
Here is Bradfords description of what socialism created among the Pilgrims:
The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato's and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labor and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense. The strong had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labors everything else, thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them.
And for men's wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it. Upon the point all being to have alike, and all to do alike, they thought themselves in the like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them Let none object this is men's corruption, and nothing to the course itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them.
For two years the harvest time failed to bring forth enough to feed the people. Indeed, many starved and many died of famine. Faced with this disaster, the elders of the colony gathered, Governor Bradford tells us, and decided that another year, and they would surely all die and disappear in the wilderness.
Instead, they decided to divide the property and fields of the colony, and gave each family a piece as their own. Whatever they did not use for their own consumption, they had the right to trade away to their neighbors for something they desired instead.
Now, instead of sloth, envy, resentment, and anger among the colonists, there was a great turnaround in their activities. Industry, effort, and joy were now seen in practically all that the men, women and children did. Bradford writes:
They had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the faces of things were changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.
Indeed, their bounty was so great, that they had enough to not only trade among themselves but also with the neighboring Indians in the forest. In November 1623, they had a great feast to which they also invited the Indians. They prepared turkey and corn, and much more, and thanked God for bringing them a bountiful crop. They, therefore, set aside a day of Thanksgiving.
So this Thursday, when we all sit down with our families and friends to enjoy the turkey and the trimmings, let us not forget that we are celebrating the establishment and triumph of capitalism and the spirit of enterprise in America!
The Berkeley story does not end happily, either, until many years later. Two years into the English colony at Berkeley, the Indians became excessively friendly, so the colonists included them in their Thanksgiving celebration. Friendly groups of Indians drifted in all morning, including their King for whom the colonists had built a house the previous winter.
Suddenly, without warning, the Indians grabbed muskets and knives, which were leaning against the buildings. and began to slaughter the colonists. It turned out that other groups of Indians started massacreing colonists in other settlements at the same time for 140 miles on either side of the James River. There is no record of how many colonists actually died, but the action brought a halt to the annual Thanksgiving celebration at Berkeley Plantation until 1958.
Jamestown, itself, was spared because a friendly Indian named Chanco rowed across the river in his canoe and warned the Jamestown population. The Indians were stopped before they could attack the settlers there.
“A failed ‘spearment in Socialism?” Is there any other kind?
>> greed, averse, and selfishness
Very timely and all Americans should know this history...
Sadly, most do not.....
Bradfords journal can be downloaded from the Gutenberg Project website
PURITAN ECONOMIC EXPERIMENTS by Dr. Gary North
Free Online Book
The Puritan Experiment in Common Ownership:
An essay by Dr. Gary North summarizes the background as to why common ownership was first initiated at the colony.
they invited Chief Massasoit and 0 braves (they most likely brought their families - but in those days, when recounting numbers at gatherings, only men were listed.)
The feasted/ sang and played games for 3 days. They had, not only ‘plenty of water fowl” but ‘ye wilde turkey
= and fish, including ‘succor from the sea” - which included clams (but probably not mussels as the had gotten quite ill from them on their first day on land) and lobster (which could be gathered under the seaweed at low time - but were considered a lowly food) -
there would have, undoubtedly been corn and pumpkins (as the natives grew these there) and cranberries - as cranberry bogs as indigenous to the area. (They made ‘bog shoes’ out of wood that strapped to their boots and provided them a few extra inches out of the water while gathering cranberries.)
I have the 1898 edition of “The Bradford History” published after many decades long searching for the original manuscript of his ‘book - which was a Journal, written for his family. I was on loan to the pastor of the Old South Church when the Revolutionary WAr broke out. The British took over the church and used it as a stable. The Journal disappeared.
I was finally tracked down in the late 1800’s, in the private library of the archbishop of London. He eventually donated it to the Pilgrim Museum and it was finally published - amost great fanfare and acclaim from scholars of the day.
I it now published continually under the name “Of Plimoth Plantation” - and should be in every home and required reading for everyone.
The best and most accurate account of the Pilgrims I have seen is the Documentary “Dangerous Crossing” - a History Ch documentary. (You can see it on You Tube - in 3 parts. A great film to watch this week - teach your kids - and yourselves - what these people went through to establish freedom in this land...the seeds of the freest country ever known.
You’re talking about my 8th great grandfather here, and I have his book “Of Plimouth Plantation” By the way, do you know how many 8th great grandparents we all have? There are 1,024 for anyone in my generation.
I’ve witnessed a similar experience in my early food service employment.. I was a young room service busboy in the Plaza Hotel in new York, and the typical struggle ensued between the server/carrier busboys, the pick-up crew, and the set-up boys..
It was standard that the servers, having to rush, and carry heavy trays of hot food, with huge silver domes,(as much as 30#’s) keeping everything warm, and waiting for elevators, etc, were collecting all of the tips, but getting paid much less in hourly wage, pennies really.. We were English speaking, polite, and well groomed, and they were a scruffy crew..
We would give them 15% of our tips to divide amongst themselves.. They would piss and moan about this arrangement and they made life for us nearly unbearable, because they delayed setting up our trays and stacked our trays unbalanced to make them harder to carry without dumping them..
The others constantly complained that when business was brisk, with conventions, business meetings, weddings, etc, we would make great money, and this was true.. But there were days, most days, when we sat all day, and most nights that nothing happened, and we went home with change in our pockets..
These were 3 different unions and nothing in those contracts called for any change in the distribution but after a meeting it was decided that we split our tips, 50-50, and they promised to do their jobs in real time..
This worked for a short time, but soon there were loud complaints that we were cheating on the split, and the lazy ones weren’t working as promised, and they were fighting among themselves.. We complained that we are taking home much less and nothing really changed, so we voted to return to the contract limits.. All hell broke out with fist fights, and feet dragging returned with a vengeance, until several boys were fired..
Over the years, even in the nonunion shops, and even in the hotels that I owned, this subject would raise it’s ugly head, with the same sad results.. The complainers seldom worked to improve their lot in life, or even worked harder to prove their worth, but wanted more of the harder workers pay..
He’s my 7th great great grandfather - through 5 lines.
Elder Brewster in one of my “8ths”, John and Priscilla, (My late aunt was ‘Priscilla Alden...’,) another of my ‘7ths’, Capt. Standish, another ‘8th’ and so on.
My grandmothers maiden name was Bradford, straight down - and a great grandmother’s was Standish...etc.
Which reminds me, column deadilne tonight...for Thursday. So will, of course, do “Thanks to the Pilgrims” column, as I have for nearly 30 years ;o)
I keep thinkging, but for that hardly, brave and resolute bunch, I would likely have been born in England. And as bad as things are here now, I feel lucky.
I’m Thankful for my little house nestled in the forest - but wish it were even further into the woods.
I wish WE had a ‘new world’ we could set sail for!
Happy to meet you cousin. My family goes back to the Bradford family through the Steele family, from my great grandmother, Betsy Steele, to Gov. Bradford’s granddaughter, Meletiah Steele. Also, my father’s family goes back to the Bradford’s through another grandchild of the Gov,, Thomas Steele.
I am of the firm belief that this should be taught to every first year college student for one semester.
If you go to the Plimouth Plantation in New England, you will hear the story for yourself in a “living museum.” That is, if they haven’t changed the talk track since I was last there to accommodate “political correctness.” When I went back in the 1980s, they spoke about the failed experiment with socialism in great detail.
I'd opt for it to be taught every school year - on a age-appropiate level.
then, when they get the Socialist agenda pushed on them, they'll have the knowledge to recognize it for what it is and push it aside...AND to hand the knowledge down to their generations -
I've written enough stories of their adventures - most of which are unknown by most today - to have a separate and fascinating chapter on them each year.
For example: How many are aware the the Mayflower Pilgrims built what must be the first prefab building in this country?
The 5 most prominent leaders (Bradford, Brewster, Alden, Howland and Allerton) "undertook" to devise a way to make the money the colony was indebted to with the 'Adventurers' back in London.
Called 'The Undertakers" - LOL - They set up trading posts in what is now the capital of Maine, Augusta, and in Castine, further north. (they traded 'trucking stuffs' - peas, knives, kettle etc for furs.)
They had a grant from the king, meaning no one else had permission to trade within or above their grant."
The trading post consisted of a building 20' x 60', and of three rooms. The first end was 'family quarters', with a mud and dauble fireplace and chimney. (John Howland, with his wife and 3 small girls, lived there winters to 'man' the post. (Winter was when furs were the best).
The building was actually built back in Plymouth and 'trucked' up the Kenebec in their shallop - then assembled on site. It was built on posts. The middle section was the trading area and the last part was the storage room.
There was an incident with inerlopers that resulted in John Alden being arrested for murder and hauled off to court in Boston, under the jurisdiction of the holier-than-thou Puritans of Boston Bay Colony, with whom our schools STILL confuse the Pilgrims - case in point, ascribing the color loving Pilgrims to wearing black and white to excusion!
That's just one story that students would find interesting - (along with how the French had to, after several failures to capture the post in Castine, had to resort to dishonesty of the most vile kind to take over the post there.)
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