The Unknown Thanksgiving Story

I have heard of this story for several years, and thought this would be an appropriate time to post about it.  From the isi forum:


What modern history texts also omit is that the contract the Pilgrims brokered with their merchant-sponsors in London specified that everything they produce go into a common store, with each member entitled to one common share. In addition, all the land they cleared and the structures they built belonged to the community.

William Bradford, Governor of the new colony, realized the futility of collectivism and abandoned the practice. Instead, Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family and permitted them to market their own crops and other products, thereby unleashing the power of free enterprise. What Bradford had wisely realized was that these industrious people had no reason to work any harder than anyone else without the motivation of personal incentive.

Thus, what can only be called the Pilgrims’ attempt at socialism ended like all other attempts at socialism — in failure. What Bradford subsequently wrote about the experiment should be in every American history textbook. The lesson provided therein is invaluable.

"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 (so far as it was) 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 labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense."

And what happened after collectivism was replaced by capitalism and the concept of private property?

"This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content."

The Pilgrims soon found they had more food than they could eat, so they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. The profits they realized allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. The success and prosperity of the original Plymouth settlement attracted more European settlers, setting off what came to be known as the "Great Puritan Migration."


Considering that in this year our government is seeking to provide health care reform and to put all of us (the politicians, of course, will be excluded) in the same common pool, I thought that this story is worth telling.  This is nothing but a man-made disaster waiting for us and our children.  If not, then I will be extremely surprised since this would be the first government run social program that works without fail.

But everyone, really, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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About Tom Roland

EE for 25 Years, Two Patents - now a certified PMP. Married twice, burned once. One son with Asperger's Syndrome. Two cats. Conservative leaning to the Right. NRA Life Member.
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9 Responses to The Unknown Thanksgiving Story

  1. When you have a hand in, are invested, have an interest in a thing, you are MOTIVATED to see its complete and utter success and protection.

    When it is “granted” or given to you and it comes for free or with little cost, it means less to you and numbs your soul.

    BZ

  2. Jamestown Colony and Plymouth Colony flirted with socialism. Like all attempts at utopia, those experiments were a consummate failure.

    In the case of Massachusetts, socialism amongst godly and sober men failed utterly!

    Of course, today’s textbooks don’t dwell on or even touch on (in most cases) these failures in collectivism. The left wants all young minds primed to accept socialism!

    PS: A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours, Tom. Including your cats!

  3. Tom says:

    The problem with Communism and Socialism is not the concept or philosophy, but the human element is inherently corrupt. They will always find a way to take advantage of the system to benefit themselves. Perhaps that’s why Capitalism works so well – it plays to those strengths and weaknesses.

  4. devon says:

    and while Communism and Socialism have those inherent flaws we can see them just as easily in Capitalism. Capitalism reduces people to nothing more than, well, capital to be used as a means towards profit. We’ve seen just as much evil come from the human spirit by way of capitalism as we have any other economic system. Whether an economic system works is more of an issue of culture and what is found to be accepted by cultural norms. There are plenty of examples of ‘successful’ socialism throughout the world whether it be the Native Americans prior to European contact or modern day Scandinavians.
    Economic collectivism isn’t appropriate for a Puritan religious context because Puratinism is ultimately focused on the self. While this might have been an important shift at the time because it made the way for individualism it can’t be ignored that equally as compelling is the successful collectivism of Mennonite communities throughout. Religiously the context of Mennonites is best understood in community so again it is easy to understand why collectivism is made culturally possible.

  5. Tom says:

    By no means is Capitalism the perfect system! But what it does do is encourage risk/reward behavior. This, in turn, stimulates economies and general improvements in the human condition. And yes, there will be winners and losers – not everyone can become a millionaire, but there is the opportunity to do so.

    Communism and socialism stifle the individual’s will to excel – after all, why take that risk if there is no reward? The general human condition is to get as much as one can with as little effort as possible. I have seen this first hand time and time again.

    With the Mennonites and Amish, they are held together with both religious and cultural norms. If someone within that community violated those norms, they could be cast out or shunned. In the early years of this country (1600’s & 1700’s), this was akin to a death sentence as these people often had nowhere to go to survive. In modern times, they now have a chance to assimilate into other parts of societies.

    As far as the Native Americans, yes, they had a “community” type of society for hundreds of years, mostly as the means for survival. But they certainly didn’t have an Industrial Age either (risk/reward behavior). Not that it didn’t serve their needs, but their society didn’t advance technologically either.

    Scandinavian countries are interesting, because their government more or less imposes socialism upon the populace. I worked with an International conglomerate of engineers, of which there were some Swedes, and they were very interested in making money to get ahead of their counterparts!

    Devon, you do make some valid points, however, socialism in this country will result in disaster.

  6. Yabu (EOTIS) says:

    You are absolutely correct, socialism in this country will result in disaster.

  7. Ken Taylor says:

    Excellent story Tom. As you said in your last comment capitalism is not perfect but it is the only system that allows people to achieve in accordance to their own abilities, promote advancement in both individuals and society as a whole.

    Additionally every dictatorial regime in history BEGAN with a socialist government because the dependancy upon the government forced by socialism both blinded and prevented the people from recognizing the birth of the dictatorship right under their nose.

    Have great Thanksgiving Tom!

  8. Tom says:

    Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!

  9. Mr Pink Eyes says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Tom.
    I have read this story before, thanks for posting it. It is funny and sad to see the Obama administration trying to implement a form of government that the Pilgrims knew had failed.

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