Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The Real Story of Thanksgiving
An NPP tradition. Enjoy the "real" story.
History revisionism is not something that’s been going on since outcome based education. It’s been going on for quite a while. The false story of Thanksgiving can be summed up very quickly.
The Pilgrims came from England to escape oppression. They arrived in a new land and were immediately overwhelmed with their own incompetence as human beings. They couldn’t grow food. They couldn’t feed themselves. They couldn’t protect themselves. They had no clue what to do.
Our schools and the media have obliterated the contributions of America’s earliest permanent settlers, the Pilgrims. Why? Because they were people inspired by profound religious beliefs and overcame incredible odds. Today, public schools are simply not teaching how important the religious dimension was in shaping our history and our nation’s character.
President Washington’s holiday declaration for Thanksgiving spoke only of using this day to thank God for the many blessings and miracles he gave our nation. Period! There was nothing about thanking the Indians or stuffing ourselves.
Whether teachers are just uncomfortable with this material or whether there’s been a concerted effort to cover up the truth, the results are the same. Kids are no longer learning enough to understand and appreciate how and why America was created.
The story of the Pilgrims begins in the early part of the seventeenth century. The Church of England under King James I was persecuting anyone and everyone who did not recognize its absolute civil and spiritual authority. Those who challenged ecclesiastical authority and those who believed strongly in freedom of worship were hunted down, imprisoned, and sometimes executed for their beliefs. A group of separatists first fled to Holland and established a community.
After eleven years, about forty of them agreed to make a perilous journey to the New World, where they would certainly face hardships, but could live and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. 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. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible.
The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example. And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work.
But this was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And 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. And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims – including Bradford’s own wife – died of starvation, sickness or exposure. When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats. Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they did not yet prosper!
This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than as a devout expression of gratitude grounded in the tradition of both the Old and New Testaments.
Here is the part that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belong to the community as well. Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives.
He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. That’s right. Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism. And what happened?
It didn’t work! Surprise, surprise, huh? What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation!
But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for hundreds of years – trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it – the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently. What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild’s history lesson. If it were, we might prevent much needless suffering in the future.
Here now, in its entirety, the William Bradford journal, what he wrote about the social experiment after abandoning what essentially was socialism shortly after the Pilgrims had arrived in the United States or in the new world:
“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,” Bradford wrote. “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…that was thought injustice.”
Do you hear what he was saying, ladies and gentlemen? The Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive.
So what did Bradford’s community try next? They harnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the under girding 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.
Not just use themselves and not just send to a common store but they could market. They could grow as much, they could sell it for what they could get for it, and the incentive was clear to do as much as possible on both sides. “And what was 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.’
Bradford doesn’t sound like much of a Obama-maniac, does he? Is it possible that supply-side economics could have existed before the 1980s? Yes.
In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves. So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London.
And the success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans and began what came to be known as the ‘Great Puritan Migration.’ Now, let me ask you: Have you read this history before? Is this lesson being taught to your children today? If not, why not?
Nevertheless, the Pilgrims and the Puritans of early New England are often vilified today as witch burners and portrayed as simpletons. But to the contrary, it was their commitment to pluralism and free worship that led to these ideals being incorporated into American history, and our history books purposely conceal the fact that these notions were developed by communities of devout Christians who studied the Bible and found that it prescribes limited representative government and free enterprise as the best political and economic systems.
Now, there’s only one word for this, folks. It’s censorship.
That’s what’s being taught today. What is not being taught today is the devotion to God that these people had, but the failure of a socialist compact to adequately provide for the residents of the first colony and how William Bradford himself saw it was failing almost from the outset and devised a new compact which was basically capitalism and unfettered competition, and incentive, and then it was Katie bar the door. All of these things are part of the original Thanksgiving, and even when I go back and remember my days in school, I was not taught this. I was not taught the involvement and the references to God.
I was not taught that the Pilgrims had all this bounty after awhile and shared it with the Indians. It was quite the opposite. The purpose of teaching Thanksgiving when I was a kid was to tell all of us just how wonderful the Indians were and how well they treated us when we arrived because we were basically inept and incompetent.
I enjoy passing this story along every Thanksgiving because we’ve been doing it here since I published and wrote the book, and it always reaches new people. Every year we do it, people who have never heard it before are amazed. Now, if I was able to find it and get the true story, it’s out there, but it’s not in conventional history textbooks that you’ll find in many of the public schools.