Do you know what the Pilgrims were thanking God for at the first Thanksgiving celebration in Plymouth? If you go to Wikipedia you will not find the answer.
It was not to thank the Native Americans for saving their lives, although they did teach the Pilgrims how to grow native vegetables.
A little background information helps explain how Thanksgiving came about. The Mayflower investors made the same mistake that the investors in Jamestown initially made. They assumed common property ownership would be the most profitable, that is, from each according to their means, to each according to their needs. Sounds like socialism, and it was.
It had the same result that socialism has had through the ages. About half of the original 101 people who came in the Fall of 1620 were dead by spring. Over the next few years another 100 came and they were barely able to feed themselves. Basically the colonists caught fish to survive, but they had no bread.
William Bradford, the colony’s first governor, noted in his book “Of Plymouth Plantation” that the colonists were so poor that “many sold away their clothes and bed coverings (to the Native Americans);” others “became servants to the Indians and would cut them wood and fetch them water for a capful of corn. . . .”
Since under the joint ownership of everything, everyone was going to get the same amount of food no matter how much they worked and produced, the most able bodied goofed off, thus ensuring that almost nothing was produced. Everyone was expecting something for nothing.
After three years of near starvation and death, Governor Bradford came to the conclusion that collective ownership, or as he put it “that conceit of Plato’s,” was the cause of poverty. Bradford decreed that every Pilgrim “should set corn, every man for his own particular.” He “assigned to every family a parcel of land” that is, everyone got to own their own farm.
Bradford required that a certain amount of each family plot owner’s agricultural yield be given to the investors to pay off their ocean passage debt. But with the rest of their production the families were allowed to keep and/or trade. Suddenly people who complained they were too sick to work were out in the fields working long, hard hours.
Bradford noted that the lazy had become “very industrious” and people worked very hard for themselves when they did not work hard for the common good. Governor Bradford discovered that socialism did not work and that private property rights and capitalism helped raise everyone’s standard of living!
That first Thanksgiving they had that third autumn in the New World was to thank God for having a bountiful harvest and establishing private property ownership and free market capitalism, the reason that our country became the most prosperous in the world. Bet you did not learn that in our public schools. Happy Thanksgiving and remember to tell your family and friends the real reason for our first Thanksgiving.