The Real Thanksgiving Message

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The Pilgrims had plenty at the first Thanksgiving, because they chucked their communist ways and went full boat capitalism. I can hear the liberals moaning now, how can Scott steal the Thanksgiving holiday for conservatives any more than it already is. You see, most people are familiar with its religious heritage, but nobody ever talks about its free market capitalist heritage.

Rush Limbaugh is very good at repeating this aspect about Thanksgiving on his radio show (and website) every year. The quotes from William Bradford, the first governor of the Pilgrims, are reprinted from Limbaugh’s website.

What you don’t know about Thanksgiving. No, I don’t mean football and Black Friday shopping. Most people remember the story of the Pilgrims and how the Indians taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn and how the Pilgrims had plenty and invited the Indians to celebrate giving thanks to God before the Pilgrims proselytized and stole the country from the Indians.

What people don’t know is that the Pilgrims nearly died through those harsh winters because they didn’t have enough food. They were better off than that first winter when half of their number died, but they didn’t prosper. The reason that they didn’t prosper is that the Pilgrims didn’t work very hard, because of their “commune” system of government.

You see, the agreement that the Pilgrims had with their London merchant sponsors, the lender for their voyage, required that everything they made had to go into a common bank and each person got an equal share. Kind of co-op. So no matter how hard you worked you got the same amount. This is socialism!

Governor Bradford called this social experiment for what it was. Bradford 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. … 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 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.”

In case you’re still suffering from your turkey hangover, let me put this simply: “Why work for the benefit of others?” So they didn’t.

So every family was assigned its own plot of land and permitted to keep what they produced and sell or trade as they desired. The result? “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.”

They had miraculous results and soon they had more food than they could eat, so they traded with the Indians. The profits allowed them to pay off the loans from their sponsors and soon they attracted more European settlers, resulting in the great Puritan Migration.

So the true story of Thanksgiving is how socialism failed, resulting in great success, plenty, and the “American Dream” if you will, based on the self-reliance, free enterprise, and rugged individualism that America is renowned for. Makes you wonder why we are still experimenting with socialist redistribution.

Must be the Turkey…

Scott Peotter is an Architect and former Planning Commissioner in Newport Beach.  Scott can be reached at [email protected].

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  1. Scott – You missed the point! If it weren’t for the horrible government they would not have had such success; therefore, the socialist government aided in their success, thus is the godfather to capitalism. Now that’s way to write history.