The pilgrims didn’t have much to be thankful for until they discovered that capitalism and free markets work well. From Thomas DiLorenzo at lewrockwell.com:
In recent years the unhinged Marxist Left in “higher” education along with the hard-Left pop communists in the teachers’ unions have been preaching that Thanksgiving is a celebration of genocide, mass murder, and imperialism. The Pilgrims murdered all the Indians, they say, and then sat down and treated themselves to big feast to celebrate their feat. They even invented the elementary schoolish word “Thankskilling” to describe it. (Send your kid to a university and he, too, can learn to sound like an uneducated Marxist moron for the rest of his life).
In reality, if the Pilgrims had anything to celebrate it was the destruction of an early form of socialism that allowed them to survive and prosper. When the first settlers arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in May of 1607 they found incredibly fertile soil and a cornucopia of seafood, wild game, and fruits of all kinds. Nevertheless, within six months all but 38 of the original 104 Jamestown settlers had starved to death. Two years later the Virginia Company sent 500 more settlers and within six months 440 of them were dead by starvation and disease. This became known as “the starving time.” The Massachusetts Pilgrims fared no better. About half of the 101 people who arrived on Cape Cod in November of 1620 were dead within a few months.
In 1611 the British government sent Sir Thomas Dale to serve as the “high marshal” of the Virginia colony. He immediately recognized the problem: The Virginia Company had adopted a system of agricultural socialism under which everything grown or produced would go to a “common store” and divided equally among all the family groups. The man who worked hard sixteen hours a day would be given the same remuneration as the man who did not work at all. Dale’s solution was to establish property rights by allotting three acres of land to each man, who was still required to pay a fee to the Virginia colony (most early American immigrants were indentured servants) but then could keep everything else for himself and his family.