Thursday, November 26, 2015

The true story of Thanksgiving

There was no freedom of religion in the early 1600s. If you did not believe in the same religion that King James I wanted, and you worshiped God in the way you wanted instead of what King James wanted, you were treated as a common criminal. You were hunted down, put in prison, or even killed.

These individuals wanted to be left alone to worship the way they wanted, and in 1608 they moved out of their homeland of England to Holland. But there was much hardship in Holland too, so the Pilgrims decided to leave England for America. But they stopped back in England first to receive funding from the Virginia Company. Then in August of 1620, 102 Pilgrims set out for America in a ship called the Mayflower.

During the ride across the ocean much discussion ensued as to what form of government to create. While still on the Mayflower in 1620, the Mayflower Compact was signed, and one of the signers was William Bradford. The Pact said that all goods and services, and all land, would be owned by the mass community, and the profits would be doled out equally among the masses.

When they landed in November they found a land that was cold, shelter less, and not very welcoming. In fact, in that first harsh winter over half of the Pilgrims died. When Spring finally arrived, the Indians taught them how to build shelters and to plant corn, fish for cod, and skin beavers to be used as coats.

The fact that an Indian tribe, lead by Massosoit, was a blessing from God in itself, because without his blessing the other Indian tribes would have pulverised the Pilgrims. This was also a blessing because a pirate named black took advantage of his friendship and took many of his people.

They did better at this point, but things did not go as well as Bradford, the original governor of the community, had expected. He decided that while the Mayflower Pact sounded like a good idea, since no one owned anything, and there was no incentive to work more than the minimum, there were many crops that went unplanted, and much that wasn't taken care of, and productivity was very poor. People did whatever the minimum was needed of them, and then they quit. What the Pilgrims had created here was an early form of socialism.

By 1623 the harvest was so poor that starvation and death became a problem almost as bad as when the colonists first arrived. They had the know how and the potential for having good crops, but this wasn't happening.

Bradford realized this pact was not working. He wrote: "The experience that we had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years...that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing – as if they were wiser than God." Yet he realized it did not work as expected.

Bradford decided to take an idea from the Bible. He gave every person a plot of land to take care of as their own. If they did well, they were able to keep part of the profits as an incentive to work hard. They were allowed to market and profit from what they sold. In effect, he turned loose the power of the marketplace. He created the worlds first capitalistic government.

The following harvest was abounding. It was not abounding because of help from the Indians, but because a socialistic government was replaced by a capitalistic one. On this, Bradford wrote: "This had very good success, for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been."

The Pilgrims did so well that they set up stands where they exchanged goods and services with the Indians, and they used profits from this to pay back their debt in England. In fact, the colony started to do so well economically that many Pilgrims decided to migrate to the colonies. This was called the Great Puritan Migration.

For helping them come up with a new system that worked to produce the bountiful crops, they decided to have a roast to give thanks to the Lord. There were some Indians at this celebration, but not as many as we and are kids are taught in school.

Now the Pilgrims were also thankful for the Indians for helping them and even protecting them. Yet that was not the main Intent of that celebration. The main intent was to thank God for teaching them an effective government.

The history books tell us that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated to give thanks to the Indians for helping the Pilgrims survive after that first hard winter. Sure the crops were improved that second November, but there was no celebration. There was no celebration until socialism was quashed and a capitalistic government was formed and the economy of the colony prospered. This is what the colonists celebrated on that first Thanksgiving. The date was August 9th.

However, since William Bradford's original notes were lost for many years, the story of  Indians saving colonists and this being the reason for the first Thanksgiving became common. And when Thanksgiving was made a national holiday by Congress in George Washington's first year in office, November 26 was selected as the day. And even while Bradford's journals were discovered, this false date and the false story of the first Thanksgiving were not corrected.

The unfortunate result of this fallacy not being corrected is that the lessons of Bradford were not learned. Carl Marx, Stalin, Lennon, Hitler, Mussolini, all played with various forms of socialism, and none of them worked.  Even today, in both the Europe and the United States, forms of socialism continue to exist. Perhaps if the true story of Thanksgiving were known, the failures of the past would not be repeated over and over again.

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