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The Lesson Of Thanksgiving: The Triumph Of Individual Liberty Over Collectivism

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

How Liberty Saved The Plymouth Colony From Starvation And Disaster Caused By Collectivism

The true story of the first Thanksgiving is quite different from what is widely accepted today and is currently taught in our schools. You see the actual story of the December 1620 landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock, the first years of the Plymouth Colony and the experience of the Pilgrims does not fit the leftist progressive woke narrative. So, over the years, the story has been changed to the point where Americans have no idea of the lessons that were learned by the Pilgrims, lessons that many of them paid for with their lives, lessons we need to relearn today.

The story that we are taught today is that the Pilgrims came to the new world and starved until the Native American Indians taught them how to survive in their new home. What actually happened was quite different. The journal of Plymouth Governor William Bradford tells the story of how the Plymouth Charter was a socialist document based on Greek philosopher Plato’s ideal of collectivism, where intellectuals would centrally control society, an ideal that disallowed private property. The results of the Pilgrims’ two-year socialist experiment were destitution and starvation that came close to wiping out the entire colony. Then, to stave off total disaster, private property and competition were introduced to the Pilgrims, which created the bounty that was celebrated at the first Thanksgiving.

William Bradford, a signer of the Mayflower Compact, served five times as Governor of the Plymouth Colony between 1621 and 1657. His journal, which covered the period from the 1620 landing of the Mayflower to his death in 1657, detailed the history of the colony.

Initially, the Puritans, or Pilgrims as they are commonly referred to today, decided to turn their backs on all English and European institutions from the lands they had left behind in their quest to seek religious liberty. The institution of private property, which they thought to be the basis of greed, avarice, and selfishness, was especially shunned. Instead, they were determined to live the ideals of collectivism, in which all work would be done in common, with the rewards of their collective efforts evenly divided among the colonists. Farming, housekeeping and child rearing would all be done in common. This, they thought, would lead to prosperity and brotherly love. Sound familiar? Hillary’s “It Takes A Village”, Obama’s “Fair Share” and Biden's "Build Back Better" come to mind, not competition and ingenuity, that are the hallmarks of America.

What happened came very close to wiping out the entire Plymouth Colony. Their experiment in collectivism did not lead to prosperity or brotherly love. Rather, it created poverty, envy and slothfulness among most of the members of the colony and eventually starvation and death.

Here is Governor Bradford’s description in his journal of the results that collectivism created for 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.”

Governor Bradford recorded that the people, who had formerly been known for their virtue and hard work, became lazy and unproductive. They refused to work for others without compensation, and thought this work was a form of slavery. Men were unwilling to work the fields to feed others. Women were unwilling to cook and raise children for other families. Fields lay largely untilled and unplanted. During the two years of their collectivist utopian plan, harvest time failed to bring enough food to feed the people. Many starved and died of famine, including Governor Bradford's wife Dorothy. Governor Bradford recorded in his journal that when faced with this disaster, in the fall of 1622 the elders of the colony gathered and decided that if they adhered to this course for one more year, they would all surely die.

The elders of colony then made the decision to take a totally difference course. Instead, they divided the colony's collective property and fields among the colonists, and gave each family their own property and land to do with as they wished. Whatever harvest a family did not use for their own consumption, they had the right to trade away to their neighbors.

Now, instead of sloth, envy, resentment, and anger amongst the colonists, there was a great turnaround in their activities. Industry, effort, and joy were now seen in practically all the efforts of colonists, men, women and children alike.

Bradford wrote:

“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.”

Freedom and property rights unleashed the industry of the colonists. The bounty of the harvest of 1623 was so great, that the Pilgrims had enough to not only trade among themselves, but also with the neighboring Indians. In November 1623, they had a great feast to which they invited their Indian neighbors. They prepared turkey, sea food and corn, and much more, and thanked God for bringing them a bountiful crop. They, therefore, set aside a day of “Thanksgiving.”

On October 3, 1789, the father of our country, President George Washington, issued a proclamation designating the 26th day of November as a day of Thanksgiving, to thank God for the bounty bestowed upon our nation.

Today, when we all sit down with our family and friends to enjoy the turkey and all the trimmings, share the story of the Plymouth Colony with your children. Let us never forget that we are thanking God for every thing he has bestowed upon us and celebrating the ideals of individual freedom, liberty, personal property and industriousness, ideals the Pilgrims learned with their lives, the ideals that made the American people the most exceptional people on the Earth and our country the greatest nation the world has ever known.


Ronald Solomon

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Sep 15, 2022

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