This article was originally published by Richard J. Maybury at The Mises Institute.
Each year at this time, schoolchildren all over America are taught the official Thanksgiving story, and newspapers, radio, TV, and magazines devote vast amounts of time and space to it. It is all very colorful and fascinating.
It is also very deceiving. This official story is nothing like what really happened. It is a fairy tale, a whitewashed and sanitized collection of half-truths which divert attention away from Thanksgiving’s real meaning.
The official story has the Pilgrims boarding the Mayflower, coming to America, and establishing the Plymouth colony in the winter of 1620–21. This first winter is hard, and half the colonists die. But the survivors are hard-working and tenacious, and they learn new farming techniques from the Indians. The harvest of 1621 is bountiful. The pilgrims hold a celebration and give thanks to God. They are grateful for the wonderful new abundant land He has given them.
The official story then has the Pilgrims living more or less happily ever after, each year repeating the first Thanksgiving. Other early colonies also have hard times at first, but they soon prosper and adopt the annual tradition of giving thanks for this prosperous new land called America.
The problem with this official story is that the harvest of 1621 was not bountiful, nor were the colonists hard-working or tenacious. 1621 was a famine year and many of the colonists were lazy thieves.
In his History of Plymouth Plantation, the governor of the colony, William Bradford, reported that the colonists went hungry for years because they refused to work in the field. They preferred instead to steal food. He says the colony was riddled with “corruption,” and with “confusion and discontent.” The crops were small because “much was stolen both by night and day before it became scarce eatable.”
In the harvest feasts of 1621 and 1622, “all had their hungry bellies filled,” but only briefly. The prevailing condition during those years was not the abundance the official story claims, it was famine and death. The first “Thanksgiving” was not so much a celebration as it was the last meal of condemned men.
But in subsequent years something changes. The harvest of 1623 was different. Suddenly, “instead of famine now God gave them plenty,” Bradford wrote, “and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.” Thereafter, he wrote, “any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.” In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.
What happened? After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, “they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop.” They began to question their form of economic organization.
This had required that “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, traffic, trucking, working, fishing, or any other means” were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.” A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take only what he needed.
This “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that “young men that were most able and fit for labor and service” complained about being forced to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children.” Also, “the strong, or man of parts, had no more in the division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak.” So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.
To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of the famines.
Many early groups of colonists set up socialist states, all with the same terrible results. At Jamestown, established in 1607, out of every shipload of settlers that arrived, less than half would survive their first twelve months in America. Most of the work was being done by only one-fifth of the men, the other four-fifths choosing to be parasites. In the winter of 1609–10, called “The Starving Time,” the population fell from five-hundred to sixty. Then the Jamestown colony was converted to a free market, and the results were every bit as dramatic as those at Plymouth.
Thus the beginning of the Liberal and Conservative parties!
This could happen again.
I wonder whether some were more-officious parasites, using food as a weapon against the strong.
And here we are!
I was hoping for the rest of the story.
Fictional?…Or not? :
Most of the Pilgrims were actually criminals banished to the colonies by the British Authorities.
The “Governor” was appointed by the King and spoke for the King.
The rampant stealing of the food grown and harvested by the Strong, Hard working Pilgrims was considered a threat on their lives as they and their women folk and children were starving while the banished criminals were getting fat. The pilgrims rose up and massacred the fat lazy criminals. The colony then flourished!
Maybe they got it right!
To Richard J. Maybury: Wow i had no idea you are a personal eye witness to the accounts that occurred.
Mister Maybury, thanks for the great lesson about personal responsibility. All American citizens need to be reminded that the lessons of Capitalism; such as best effort, preparation for success through trade training or university, competition, and ethical trade, are important to a society’s success. The failures of communism are many, however many snowflakes have not studied HISTORY.
In the meantime, communists like Bernie Sanders & Pocahontas, will use ignorant people as “useful idiots.”
I never understood liberals and don’t think I ever will. If talking to a liberal for more than a minute on most topics, they soon see the error in their ways…yet they stay with that belief system! It must be a self-defense mechanism. They know socialism doesn’t work and as I’ve debated them in the past, some have even admitted that socialism doesn’t work, yet they still are angry I don’t want to go the socialism route. Try to make sense of that!
They think they’re the generous kind and loving ones because they are good at stealing and giving away other people’s money!
The best was when I asked a “Democratic Socialist” if he thinks people should be personally responsible for the decisions they make. He emphatically said “NO”.
My husband and I are High school teachers and would like to have your list of sources or references to “The Great Thanksgiving Hoax”. It was a great article and should be shared more. We just want to make sure the sources are credible before we saw off the limb that we are sitting on. Thank you.
You’re a teacher, you should already know this material or at least be able to find it on your own. Damn, you’re a perfect example of the current failed education system. Do you tell your students to find things out on their own or wait for someone to do it for them? Absolutely pathetic
Anonymous: Keep in mind that their curriculum may not include it in their texts. And, even if they DO know the real Thanksgiving Story, their (((school board))) or administration may not allow them to tell it. I have seen this happen, vis-à-vis the “Religion of Peace” when I worked as a Teachers Aide here in North Idaho, of all places.
There are a significant number of teachers here in Amerika who are literally running scared due to threats by their Marxist, (((school boards))) and useful idiot administrations. This is why Charter Schools, private Christian Schools, Catholic Schools and home school cooperatives are steadily gaining ground. Remember the words of Voltaire: TO FIND OUT WHO HAD POWER OVER YOU, FIND OUT WHO YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO CRITICISE. And, Jeffery Epstein did not kill himself.
Kind of like America today. May work the fields and the (((human parasites))) steal most of it. Control their money who cares what form of government they choose. Control their food you control their life. And why the US army and General Custer slaughtered a million buffalo to starve the True Native Americans. If the Indians had the “Compound Bow” back then, History would have been much different for America.
Lesson learned, Never invade a parasite into your home or on your land. And this other Commie song they teach you in grade school. “This Land is My Land, this Land is your Land.” I think NOT, you come on my land and trespass, you get shot. But that’s how commies think. Everything you own they try to claim.