At this time of the year when most of us have a lot more to be thankful for than we realize, (count your blessings) let us all say a small prayer for those among us who have not been so fortunate. I would also like to take this opportunity to examine that first THANKSGIVING and to reflect upon a few lessons that might be learned from a few little-known details about the Pilgrims who first came to the New World and founded our great country.
The history books have it partially right, for a change, in describing the Pilgrim's first harvest in 1620 as being exceedingly meager indeed, only to be followed by a miserable winter. It is also true that without a great deal of help and compassion from nearby Native Americans, they would not have survived that first winter. The only thing that they had to be thankful for was that the neighboring Indians helped them instead of killing them. Nor did they have any better luck their second year as their harvest in 1621 was not much better than their first. Nevertheless, again with the help of the Indians, they held that first Thanksgiving Day Feast that we all learned about as children and still celebrate to this very day. However, it was only after their third failed harvest that the situation changed.
Let us now examine that little-known part of the story that most of us either never knew or have completely forgotten. Their third harvest in 1622 was so bad that it came to the point where the remaining Pilgrims faced starvation. Why? How could this have happened, especially since their neighboring Indian friends had a bountiful harvest? The answer may surprise you as well as most historians who don’t fully understand economics. During their first three years, the Pilgrims practiced "farming in common" or better known as “Socialism” or “Communism”. They were all idealists who believed in equality and came to the new world not only in search of religious freedom, but to get away from what they considered to be the “dog eat dog” world of 17th century England. “Each according to his need, not according to his deed” was their Socialist Manifesto; preceding Karl Marx by nearly 100 years. The farmland belonged to the colony and so did all the food. Portions were rationed out equally regardless of their respective inputs or responsibilities during the year. The situation had gotten so bad and the animosity had become so acrimonious that, in the spring of 1623, the Pilgrims realized that they had to make a drastic change. They decided to allocate individual plots of land to each of the families and members of the colony to own outright. In turn, the owners were then individually responsible for their own property and what it produced.
Hopefully you know or can guess the outcome of their experiment in private property, private ownership and individual responsibility, also known as “Capitalism”. The harvest in 1623 was abundantly plentiful and that was the actual year when the Pilgrims themselves first set aside a special day of Thanksgiving to God. Little did they know then as most clergy of every denomination and religion still don’t know to this very day, that the economics of the Bible is Capitalism. In a few short years, under a capitalistic system, the colony became exceedingly prosperous and produced in such great abundance that it was way beyond their own needs, so that they were then in a position to begin trading their surplus. They considered it to be miraculous. With the benefit of hindsight, what they had discovered was the miraculous results of private ownership and free markets. They were, without realizing it, following in God’s ways as they had originally set out to do.
THANKSGIVING is the one time during the year when we should be reflecting on God’s greatest gift to mankind and that is his freedom to choose. Free Market Capitalism is the only system that is not a zero sum game; not only can it create wealth for the common man, but also gives him the opportunity to improve his lot in life. It’s only through FREE MARKET principles can we solve all of our most pressing problems. At this time of the year, perhaps we might also reflect on God’s Covenant with Abraham whereby we inherited the obligation of spreading GOD’S WORD of Individual Freedom, Individual Responsibility and Individual Charity, throughout the world. SPREADING FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY IS EVERYONE’S INDIVIDUAL AS WELL AS COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY. It is only in granting FREEDOM to others that we can guarantee freedom to ourselves.
In the middle of the Civil War, prompted by a series of editorials written by Sarah Josepha Hale, the last of which appeared in the September 1863 issue of Godey's Lady's Book, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November 1863.
UNCOMMON COMMON SENSE
Dr. Aubie Baltin
Palm Beach Gardens, FL