Thursday, November 24, 2011


The Pilgrims came pretty close to not ever having a Thanksgiving celebration. They were almost starved out of their toehold in North America. You see, the contract they had entered into in London was an early experiment in Communism. That is, the Pilgrims agreed, "everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community as well. They were going to distribute it equally. Nobody owned anything."

The ambitious plan was a dismal flop. They barely survived the first winter, losing half their number, including Governor Bradford's wife, to death. Problem is, though their communal ideas were noble they did not take human nature into account. Working for the common good gave no incentive to work hard. Does that sound bad? That is human nature. Ignoring it is as reckless as ignoring your auto's need for oil.

Bradford came to the conclusion that, "young men that were most 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 any recompense, that was thought injustice."

Finally, the Pilgrims decided to work each his own land and market his own crops and products. With the help of the local Indians, who taught them some farming techniques, the pilgrims brought in enough to face a comfortable winter. This sparked the first Thanksgiving celebration that we remember today. It was personal freedom that brought prosperity to the new world. We ought to celebrate that as we give thanks today.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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