The BIG Liberty-Lessons Found In Thanksgiving

P. Gardner Goldsmith | November 26, 2020
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Thanksgiving 2020 might be one of the most important in American history.

Now, as families struggle to gather without encountering police who might be willing to enforce unconstitutional and unethical “lockdown” and “gathering” diktats, more Americans can see the forces that have been trying to undermine it. And they can see that the wicked work has been conducted in a decades-long program of corrosive propaganda instituted by media and political institutions alike.

Simply put, as we battle to maintain one of America’s most important ties to its heritage, we can see that Thanksgiving wasn’t what many government school teachers claim.

It wasn’t established because the Pilgrims wanted to “thank” the natives for help. Yes, the Pilgrims got along with some of the natives, and got tips from them, but that wasn’t why they started Thanksgiving.

The Pilgrims started Thanksgiving because they were thankful to God for helping them turn away from collectivism -- the system that almost wiped them out -- and to embrace private property and free enterprise.

Not many people learn this in government-run schools. In fact, two years ago, I was in a room with two teachers who didn’t know this, one of whom tried to push the classic canard that “real communism” has never been tried, the other of whom held firmly to her fantasy that “it was the weather” that saved the Pilgrims.

It wasn’t “the weather," and communism has been tried, over and over, always leading to disaster.

And, in Thanksgiving, we can see one of the early lessons about this, offered centuries before Marx wrote his “Communist Manifesto.” 

Indeed, the governing body of Pilgrims tried communism in 1620, and it led to starvation, death, misery, anger, and the near destruction of Plymouth Plantation.

Here’s the backstory, which includes another key lesson about free markets that often goes overlooked.

England was in turmoil from the 16th through the 17th Centuries. The Protestant Reformation and creation of the Anglican Church had seen a profound split by the United Kingdom from Roman Catholicism, and many battles occurred between British Catholics and Protestants for control.

Within that struggle, there were other sectarian conflicts. The Puritans were Calvinists, who didn’t think the Anglican Church was “pure enough”, and so some “Puritans” fled the strife in England to live in the free-market, free-religion nation of Holland, which had recently won its independence from Spain.

For over ten years, the Pilgrims enjoyed the fruits of that free trade system. They found ample opportunities to work and prosper, but many of them did not like the fact that their children were becoming, in their eyes, “too Dutch” and straying away from the strict Calvinist lifestyle. So they decided to resettle in America

Thus, we discover the first lesson in economics revealed by The Pilgrims’ story…

The Pilgrims didn’t have sufficient capital to hire two ships and buy provisions to sail west.

Instead – thanks to the fact that they were in the bustling laissez faire nation of Holland – they were able to secure investors.

So we see Thanksgiving Lesson One:

The only reason Plymouth Plantation was established was because a group of Dutch “capitalists” had enough expendable surplus to see the Pilgrim effort as a worthy investment and sponsor the trip, asking, in exchange, for portions of the furs and valuables the Pilgrims could send back.

Sadly, the Pilgrims ran into trouble of their own making. Not only was the second ship, Speedwell, unseaworthy and left behind, the Pilgrims originally planned to sail to Virginia, but missed their target.

Worst of all, in Massachusetts, they established a political-economic system of command-and-control collectivism, whereby no one was allowed to own and control his own property.

And this is where Lesson Two – the big lesson -- appears. This is where Thanksgiving has its roots.

Despite help from natives, the communist system Governor William Bradford oversaw led to terrible internal conflict, resentment, sloth, poor harvests, and starvation for many.

Here is Bradford, in his own words, describing their grievous error in establishing the “Platonic Ideal” by prohibiting private property and mandating communal lives:

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; 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.

Bradford goes on to note:

For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour 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 labours and victuals, clothes, etc., with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them.

And here’s what collectivism brought to many women:

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. Upon the point all being to have alike, and all to do alike, they thought themselves in the like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have been worse if they had been men of another condition. Let none object this is men's corruption, and nothing to the course itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them.

That course was the allowance of private property and trade, which led to vast riches and surplus, happiness, and prosperity. Here’s Bradford:

So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. 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.

Don’t let the propagandists win.

The first Thanksgiving was a celebration of God helping the Pilgrims find a path away from tyranny, oppression, and starvation.

Finding a path away from collectivism, and to private property

Thanksgiving came about because of the surplus the free market system allowed the settlers to achieve.

So, gather with family. Engage in conversations. Employ your free will.

It is about freedom.

Please remember, and spread the word.

Happy Thanksgiving.