holidays, life

Homage to History

I posted the true history of our American Thanksgiving in 2012 and thought it was time to share it again. I’ve copied and pasted it below.

A little wisdom about our traditional American holiday.

The True Story of Thanksgiving.

On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement – a contract – that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs.

The journey to the New World was long and arduous (the details of what happened to them are quite tragic). When the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found, according to Bradford’s detailed journal, “a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them,” he wrote. “There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves.”

When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats. Yes, it was Indians that taught the white man. The Pilgrims needed such instruction to help them survive, but they didn’t prosper . . . at least not yet. Why? Keep reading, because this is important to understand, and it’s where modern American history lessons often end.

Here is the part [of Thanksgiving] that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims entered into with their London financiers, called for everything they produced to go into a common store. Each member of the community was entitled to one common share. They farmed communally. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community as well. They planned to distribute it equally. Nobody owned anything.

Their experiment in collectivism did not lead to prosperity or brotherly love. Instead, it created poverty, starvation, resentment and anger.

For two years the harvest time failed to bring forth enough to feed the people. Indeed, they suffered from starvation and many died. Governor Bradford tells us, that faced with this disaster, the elders of the colony gathered. They predicted that in another year they would surely all die and disappear in the wilderness.

According to Bradford’s journal, the Pilgrims could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. It belittled each of them as individuals, and he wrote that they complained it felt like slavery. So, what did Bradford’s community try next? They unharnessed the power of free enterprise and the capitalistic principle of private property. Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work, and permitted to market its own crops and products. They decided to divide the property and fields of the colony, and gave each family a piece as their own. Whatever they did not use for their own consumption, they had the right to trade away to their neighbors for something they desired instead.

“This had very good success,” wrote Bradford, “for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.”

Their bounty was so great, that they had enough to not only trade among themselves but also with the neighboring Indians. The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. In November 1623, they had a great feast to which they also invited the Indians. They prepared turkey and corn, and much more, and thanked God for bringing them a bountiful crop. They, therefore, set aside a day of “Thanksgiving.”

Once they reformed their system to a free market, they produced more than they could possibly consume. They invited the Indians to dinner, and gave thanks for all the plenty.

The success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans, and began what came to be known as the “Great Puritan Migration.'”

This is the true story of Thanksgiving.

This information was found from a few different sources, but most of this blog was taken from this link. You can also read there what Bradford wrote (in his own words) in his journal about the collectivist social experiment.



14 thoughts on “Homage to History”

    1. Thank you, Andrea. Yes, we had a nice time at my bro’s with his three kids and each of our dogs. Lots of activity, which I missed back in Florida.

      Hope you’re having a nice weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Lori, a fascinating post. I knew that they almost died but not the reason behind it. Glad you shared this post with us again. Coincidentally I was reading about a light festival not far from me and it’s in a town where the captain of the Mayflower was born! Hope you had a wonderful time yesterday and wishing you a joyful weekend. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Annika. Thanks for reading about our Thanksgiving. Several died on the trip over on the Mayflower, then several more died from starvation before they integrated their new system.

      How interesting that you recently read where the captain of the Mayflower was born. Synchronicity.

      I really did have a nice Thanksgiving now that I live near family again. Thank you, and you have a magical weekend, too. It would be even more magical with one of those drinks from the festival you went to. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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