The forgotten lesson of Thanksgiving

Posted by: Phineas on November 24, 2011 at 12:31 pm

**Posted by Phineas

Happy Turkey Day, everyone.

I remember in grammar school we used to be taught the “lessons of Thanksgiving,” including such wonderful things as sharing and gratitude. It seems one lesson never gets taught, though, and so reporter John Stossel wrote to remind us of it in this 2010 article:

Had today’s political class been in power in 1623, tomorrow’s holiday would have been called “Starvation Day” instead of Thanksgiving. Of course, most of us wouldn’t be alive to celebrate it.

Every year around this time, schoolchildren are taught about that wonderful day when Pilgrims and Native Americans shared the fruits of the harvest. But the first Thanksgiving in 1623 almost didn’t happen.

Long before the failure of modern socialism, the earliest European settlers gave us a dramatic demonstration of the fatal flaws of collectivism. Unfortunately, few Americans today know it.

The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share the work and produce equally.

That’s why they nearly all starved.

They nearly starved because too few people were willing to work hard to make the land productive enough to feed everyone, knowing they could still draw from the communal pot regardless of their (lack of) effort. Hence, not enough food was produced and the Colony nearly died.

But it didn’t. Having seen the failure of communalism and a planned economy, the colony’s leaders decided to divide the land into plots of private property and make each family responsible for their own livelihood. The results, as reported by Governor Bradford were amazing:

“This had very good success,” Bradford wrote, “for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many.”

In other words, private property and a free market made prosperity possible, while Socialism nearly got everyone killed.

Read the rest before you settle down to turkey and football (and the inevitable food coma), and let’s keep this forgotten lesson in mind.

Enjoy the day, folks!

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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5 Responses to “The forgotten lesson of Thanksgiving”


  1. Sefton says:

    I’m positive public schools all over the fruited plain are teaching this very lesson. /sarc off

  2. Carlos says:

    Seems to me I remember some aristocrat type that didn’t want to work at the designated labors (he must have been a precursor to the libs and Democraps), and when harvest time came Mr. Bradford wouldn’t let him partake of the fruits of everyone else’ labors. Nearly starved, as I understand it.

    A lesson that should be taught in every class, every day, from preschool through post-grad.

  3. Lorica says:

    now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many.

    Yet again history shows that work does a man good!! Gives him something to be proud of. Shows love to his wife and family. Now if only someone could get that thru the heads of these lunatics on this crazy black Friday. – Lorica

  4. Carlos says:

    Off-Topic: The headline in “Legal Insurrection right next to this reads “What if everything we have been told about Mitt Romney’s electability is wrong?”

    No one is going to beat Duh-1 unless there is general excitement in the base for the candidate. Mitt, like Ron Paul, has a consistent base that rarely exceeds or goes below a certain number. That “base” will not change for either candidate, and I can practically guarantee a Paul run as an independent if Romney gets the Republican nomination, thus guaranteeing another Obhammud victory.

    Therefore, if my premises are correct (and I can’t see where they aren’t), Mr. Romney is not only not electable, his nomination would guarantee another Obhammud victory.