Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of the year in our country when we celebrate the blessings of the past year. While most of us are excited to dine on delicious turkey, pumpkin, and other traditional Thanksgiving foods, some are looking forward to a four-day weekend and planning their vacations.
But did you know that the real story of Thanksgiving is more than just the harvest feast that the Pilgrims (English colonists) of Plymouth and the native Wampanoag tribe shared together in 1621? It’s essentially a story of how socialism failed, and capitalism saved the colony of Plymouth to prosperity and progress.
This true story of Thanksgiving is discussed by Rush H. Limbaugh III in his children’s book entitled “Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims,” which was published in an effort to help the younger generation know the real incidents of our country’s founding that should have been correctly taught in schools.
What we have been taught about Thanksgiving
For most of us, the version we are generally taught about Thanksgiving is that the Pilgrims from England arrived in our country after a perilous trip across the Atlantic Ocean for 60+ days. They did not know what to do. The Native Americans saw their desperate situation and helped them by teaching them how to grow food, among other life-saving skills. The Pilgrims thanked the Natives for growing their own crops and celebrating their bountiful harvests with a big Thanksgiving dinner. End.
England in the 1600s
To know the true story of Thanksgiving, we look back to as early as the 17th century in England. At this time, the Church of England under King James I was persecuting everyone who did not acknowledge the church’s “absolute civil and spiritual authority.” In short, there was no religious freedom. Some people fled to Holland.
After 11 years of living in Holland, around 40 of the separatists decided to join the journey to the New World, a new place that hasn’t been developed. They knew they would “face hardships” but what’s important to them is that they would live freely and worship God and their own beliefs.
The Mayflower Compact
In August 1620, the Mayflower, a 50-foot boat, started its journey across the Atlantic to the New World with 102 passengers, 40 of which were the separatists (now referred to as Pilgrims) led by William Bradford.
Aboard the Mayflower, Bradford arranged an agreement or contract that set the “just and equal laws” for all members in the community in the New World regardless of their religious beliefs.
Arriving in the New World
The Pilgrims arrived in the New World in November but the place was desolate. They realize that the hardship had just begun in their effort to obtain their freedom to worship. As devoutly religious people who were “completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments,” they endured their first winter but not without losing half of them to death due to exposure to elements, starvation, and sickness.
When spring came, the Pilgrims finally got to meet the Indians. These Native Americans taught the Pilgrims how to grow corn, fish for cod, and find beavers to skin for fur, among other things. And that’s the end of the feel-good part of Thanksgiving that’s generally taught to us; i.e. a holiday for when the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Natives for saving their lives.
No prosperity in the New World
Despite the massive assistance from the Natives, there was no prosperity in the Pilgrim community. There was the Mayflower Compact that provided the laws that the Pilgrims had to live by, but there was no progress.
What is omitted in our history books is that in the original agreement the Pilgrims entered into prior to their perilous trip across the Atlantic Ocean, they had sponsors in Holland and London who funded their journey. These merchant sponsors obliged the Pilgrims to establish a single bank where everything the Pilgrims produced will be stored, and each member of the Pilgrim community will have an equal share of what is in the common store.
Everything including land, houses and produce was distributed equally to everyone. Ironically, nobody actually owned anything. It was essentially a commune long before collectivism and socialism were conceptualized.
Bradford, who was the then-governor of the community, realized that the current setup was not working and was actually destructive to the community. It was making even the most creative and hardworking Pilgrims become discontented and was hindering everyone from maximizing their potential because there was no incentive for doing their best work.
Why should a person do extra work and help out other people if there is no payment or reward for doing so?
The principle of private property
Bradford took bold action to break free from the perils of the community’s setup. He invoked the principle of private property by assigning each family its own plot of land, wherein they could do anything they want. They could be lazy, or they could maximize the potential of their land. The opportunity to prosper and the concept of profit were introduced. Capitalism was at work here long before such a setup was even conceptualized.
With the shift into this new free-enterprise setup, there was an enormous success in the community. Everyone became so industrious that they were able to grow corn more than they used to.
And that is basically the true story of Thanksgiving. The Pilgrim community thrived because socialism failed, and capitalism was established.
The community’s prosperity led to the establishment of trading posts and to the building of trade relations with the Indians. The Pilgrims obtained profits, which were used to finally pay off their debts to their merchant sponsors.
What’s more, the story of the colony’s success and prosperity reached back to Europe, and as a result, more Europeans want to travel to the New World to give living there a shot. The “Great Puritan Migration” flooded the New World with new arrivals.
Don’t get it wrong. The Native Americans were significant in providing the Pilgrims with the much-needed assistance they needed to acclimate to their new environment. But the massive prosperity for the community did not happen until the Pilgrims took the bold step to make the change in thinking from socialism to capitalism.