On this coming Thanksgiving holiday, I would be eternally grateful if
our government-run education camps would teach the next generation of
Americans the true story of Plymouth Rock rather than the
romanticized fairy tale version.
Ten years ago I read for the first time Matthew Givens’ column
titled, “Thanksgiving: America’s Lesson on Why Socialism
Doesn’t Work.” And I’ve been reading it to my homeschooled
kids every Thanksgiving ever since.
“When the colonists first landed” at Plymouth Rock in 1620,
Givens wrote, “they signed something called the Mayflower Compact.
Most of us have heard this document praised as an early social
contract helping different people live together. What most of us
never learned was that it was also an experiment in socialism.”
An experiment that went horribly wrong, big time.
The Mayflower Compact required that all the colonists donate all the
benefits derived from their work – farming, fishing, clothing, etc.
– into the “common stock” and only take out what they actually
needed. You know: From each according to ability; to each according
Well, as the story was told by then-Gov. William Bradford, the young
men of the colony became unhappy campers about being forced to
“spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and
children.” And since the non-producers got the same amount of
goodies from the common stock as producers, the producers simply
As such, “the amount of food produced was never adequate.” Thus
the inadequate harvests of 1621 and 1622 did, in fact, lead to
famine, malnutrition and starvation among the Pilgrims. But it
wasn’t the Indians teaching them how to farm that ultimately
rescued the colonists from their plight.
What did? Old-fashioned American capitalism!
“In 1623,” Givens explains, “Bradford ‘gave each household a
parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or
trade it away as they saw fit.” The result? “By 1624, the
colony was producing so much food that it began exporting corn.”
“Thanksgiving,” Givens concludes, “far from being the simple
and uninspiring story of a group of people learning how to farm, is
actually a celebration of what has made America itself great. It is
the story of people working together by working for themselves first,
and in so doing, improving the standard of living for everyone.”
Amen and hallelujah!
So as you sit around the Thanksgiving table this year with family and
friends munching on turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie, pause to
reflect on the true meaning of this quintessential American holiday
just as we should pause to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas
each year; that socialism is bad, even when slick-talking community
organizers from Chicago try to peddle it as “fairness.”