Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Lesson of the First Thanksgiving

One that sadly, it seems we are forgetting...

PhotobucketWilliam Bradford was one of the leaders of that group of persons we call "The Pilgrims." They settled in what is now Massachusetts in 1620 after a long and perilous sea voyage. Bradford became Governor, a post in which he served off and on for over 30 years. He completed "History of Plymouth Plantation" in 1650 (text here).

The first months after their arrival half the Pilgrims died of disease, starvation or exposure to the elements. At first, they banded together to share the fruits of labor equally among themselves. Here's Bradford's report of the success of the collective "redistributive" approach:
The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato's and other ancients applauded by some of later times; and that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the 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. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes than 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 labors and victuals, clothes etc., with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignity 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 many husbands well brook it.
Three years later "after much debate of things" they decided to try things differently and let everyone work the land for themselves:

This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.
The lesson here: socialist "redistributive" policies "breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment." Labor free to reap it's own reward provides an abundance for all to enjoy!
Happy Thanksgiving!

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