Tag Archives: Pilgrims

Grateful for Not Starving, by John Stossel

The Pilgrims were probably thankful for their own productivity, and for a newly instituted system that allowed them to keep what they had earned, and exchange it with other producers. It was capitalism on a small scale. A fitting Thanksgiving lesson. From John Stossel at theburningplatform.com:

When we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I will give thanks for property rights.

Property rights allow each individual or family to do what we want with our small piece of the world without having to answer to the whole community.

On Thanksgiving, we’ll probably be told to think of America as one big family — and for some people, government is the head of that family. That idea warms the hearts of America’s new “democratic socialists.”

But thinking like that nearly destroyed this nation before it began.

The Pilgrims at Plymouth didn’t share a feast with Indians after arriving in 1620 because America was so filled with bounty.

Instead, the Pilgrims nearly starved to death. They’d tried to farm collectively — the entire community owning all the land and sharing everything, like socialists. Gov. William Bradford wrote, “By the spring, our food stores were used up and people grew weak and thin. Some swelled with hunger.”

Then, writes Bradford, “After much debate (I) assigned each family a parcel of land… (T)his had very good success, because it made every hand industrious.”

Crop production increased because workers reaped direct benefits of their own effort. They stopped hoping someone else would do the hard work.

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Thanksgiving: Celebrating the Birth of American Free Enterprise, by Richard M. Ebeling

This should have run on Thanksgiving, but SLL had too much turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy and fell asleep at the switch. It’s a good article if you can take one more about Thanksgiving. From Richard M. Ebeling at mises.org:

This time of the year, whether in good economic times or bad, is when Americans gather with their families and friends and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal together. It marks a remembrance of those early Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the uncharted ocean from Europe to make a new start in Plymouth, Massachusetts. What is less appreciated is that Thanksgiving also is a celebration of the birth of free enterprise in America.

The English Puritans, who left Great Britain and sailed across the Atlantic on the Mayflower in 1620, were not only escaping from religious persecution in their homeland. They also wanted to turn their back on what they viewed as the materialistic and greedy corruption of the Old World.

Plymouth Colony Planned as Collectivist Utopia

In the New World, they wanted to erect a New Jerusalem that would not only be religiously devout, but be built on a new foundation of communal sharing and social altruism. Their goal was the communism of Plato’s Republic, in which all would work and share in common, knowing neither private property nor self-interested acquisitiveness.

What resulted is recorded in the diary of Governor William Bradford, the head of the colony. The colonists collectively cleared and worked the land, but they brought forth neither the bountiful harvest they hoped for, nor did it create a spirit of shared and cheerful brotherhood.

The less industrious members of the colony came late to their work in the fields, and were slow and easy in their labors. Knowing that they and their families were to receive an equal share of whatever the group produced, they saw little reason to be more diligent in their efforts. The harder working among the colonists became resentful that their efforts would be redistributed to the more malingering members of the colony. Soon they, too, were coming late to work and were less energetic in the fields.

To continue reading: Thanksgiving: Celebrating the Birth of American Free Enterprise

 

Thanksgiving: Celebrating the Birth of America Free Enterprise, by Richard Ebeling

From Richard Ebeling at epictimes.com:

This time of the year, whether in good economic times or bad, is when Americans gather with their families and friends and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal together. It marks a remembrance of those early Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the uncharted ocean from Europe to make a new start in Plymouth, Massachusetts. What is less appreciated is that Thanksgiving also is a celebration of the birth of free enterprise in America.

The English Puritans, who left Great Britain and sailed across the Atlantic on the Mayflower in 1620, were not only escaping from religious persecution in their homeland. They also wanted to turn their back on what they viewed as the materialistic and greedy corruption of the Old World.

Plymouth Colony Planned as Collectivist Utopia

In the New World, they wanted to erect a New Jerusalem that would not only be religiously devout, but be built on a new foundation of communal sharing and social altruism. Their goal was the communism of Plato’s “Republic,” in which all would work and share in common, knowing neither private property nor self-interested acquisitiveness.

What resulted is recorded in the diary of Governor William Bradford, the head of the colony. The colonists collectively cleared and worked the land, but they brought forth neither the bountiful harvest they hoped for, nor did it create a spirit of shared and cheerful brotherhood.

The less industrious members of the colony came late to their work in the fields, and were slow and easy in their labors. Knowing that they and their families were to receive an equal share of whatever the group produced, they saw little reason to be more diligent in their efforts. The harder working among the colonists became resentful that their efforts would be redistributed to the more malingering members of the colony. Soon they, too, were coming late to work and were less energetic in the fields.

Collective Work Equaled Individual Resentment

As Governor Bradford of the Plymouth Colony explained in his old English (though with the spelling modernized):

“For the young men that were 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 recompense. The strong, or men of parts, had no more division of food, clothes, etc. then 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 labor, and food, clothes, etc. with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignant 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 husbands brook it.”

Because of the disincentives and resentments that spread among the population, crops were sparse and the rationed equal shares from the collective harvest were not enough to ward off starvation and death. Two years of communism in practice had left alive only a fraction of the original number of the Plymouth colonists.

To continue reading: Thanksgiving: Celebrating the Birth of American Free Enterprise