Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Lost Story of Thanksgiving

I consider myself to be an educated and knowledgeable person. However, until I was listening to Rush on Wednesday (hit and miss while running errands before Thanksgiving and the retail crush that follows), and then found this article by John Stossel Wednesday night (h/t Instapundit), I had never heard this before:

Because of sharing, the first Thanksgiving in 1623 almost didn't happen.

The failure of Soviet communism is only the latest demonstration that freedom and property rights, not sharing, are essential to prosperity. The earliest European settlers in America had a dramatic demonstration of that lesson, but few people today know it.

When the Pilgrims first settled the Plymouth Colony, they organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share everything equally, work and produce.

They nearly all starved.


"So as it well appeared that famine must still ensue the next year also, if not some way prevented," wrote Gov. William Bradford in his diary. The colonists, he said, "began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length after much debate of things, [I] (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. ... And so assigned to every family a parcel of land."

The people of Plymouth moved from socialism to private farming. The results were dramatic.

"This had very good success," Bradford wrote, "for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. ... By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many. ... "

Because of the change, the first Thanksgiving could be held in November 1623.

Something I'll be sure to incorporate into my lessons whenever I teach about Thanksgiving with my future students...

1 comment:

MK said...

Yeah, i didn't know about this either until i read it somewhere on the blogosphere. Goes to show communism has been failing for centuries now.

Nice blog, i'll add you to my blogroll.