It seems as though every year some freedom organization or another brings out William Bradford’s journal as evidence of how communism didn’t work for the pilgrims while a free market system was what really led to the first Thanksgiving. This year, it was Free Talk Live that tried to make the case. Unfortunately, they all miss a few important points.
First of all, the pilgrims first Thanksgiving in America was in 1621 when Bradford (governor of the Plymouth Colony) reported that the bounty was plentiful. His tale of the free market system overcoming the original communist system in the colony is relating events from 1623 – when they had not received supplies from England in nearly two years.
More importantly, however, those who claim this is a true victory for freedom is the fact that the pilgrims didn’t even own their land, much less than anything else. In fact, the entirety of the Plymouth Colony remained the property of King James I who authorized the Council for New England to plant and govern land in the area. The Pilgrims had a contract stating all land and profits would accrue to the Company for 7 years at which time the assets would be divided among the shareholders. Most of the Pilgrims held some stock. The Pilgrims negotiated a more favorable contract with the Company in 1626. In 1627, Plymouth colony determined upon a new economic arrangement with 53 Plymouth freemen (the “Purchasers”) agreeing to buy out the Company over a period of years.
It was during this renegotiation that the 3rd problem arises as the Pilgrims returned to their original division of debt-
“So they caled ye company togeather, and conferred with them, and came to this conclusion, that ye trade should be managed as before, to help to pay the debts; and all such persons as were above named should be reputed and inrouled for purchasers; single free men to have a single share, and every father of a familie to be alowed to purchass so many shares as he had persons in his family; that is to say, one for him selfe, and one for his wife, and for every child that he had living with him, one. As for servants, they had none, but what either their maisters should give them out of theirs, or their deservings should obtaine from ye company afterwards. Thus all were to be cast into single shares according to the order abovesaid; and so every one was to pay his part according to his proportion towards ye purchass, & all other debts, what ye profite of ye trade would not reach too; viz. a single man for a single share, a maister of a famalie for so many as he had. This gave all good contente.”
We all know at this point that communism doesn’t work and that coercive government of sovereign human beings is not only evil but ultimately ineffective. There are examples of both surrounding us every day, so please, please stop dragging the poor pilgrims into the mix. They were all essentially slaves themselves.