The Real Meaning Behind Thanksgiving

Nov 20th, 2010 | By | Category: News

As you prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday with family and friends, I want to share with you the real secret story behind this Holiday.

It is not what you or I learned in grade school.

On August 1, 1620 the Mayflower set sail to America with a total of 102 passengers, of which 40 were pilgrims. The voyage was commanded by William Bradford.

The pilgrims had contracted with merchants from London to work the land in the New World and send back some of the fruits of their labor.

The contract stipulated that just and equal laws based on the Bible would apply and each pilgrim would share equally in the work and reap the benefits.

They landed in New England in November to a cold, barren, hostile environment.

That first winter half the pilgrims died, including William Bradford’s wife. They died of sickness, starvation, and exposure.

When spring came, the Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, how to fish for cod, and how to skin beavers for coats. It was the Indians who taught the pilgrims to skin beasts.

Life improved for the pilgrims, but they did not prosper.

This is typically where modern history lessons end,
with the Indians teaching the poor white settlers how to survive and celebrating a Thanksgiving feast together.

But that’s not the whole story. . .

You see, the contract the pilgrims entered into with their merchant sponsors called for the pilgrims to work the land and deposit the fruits of their labor into a common store.

Each member of the community was entitled to one common share.

All the land the pilgrims cleared and the homes they built also belonged to the community, not the individual. So no one owned anything.

Now Bradford, who had become the new governor of this 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.

Long before Karl Marx was even born, the pilgrims discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism — a communal affair.

What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, because they would all get an equal share of what was produced.

What Bradford wrote about in this social experiment should be required history teaching in grade school.

He wrote, “The experience that was 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.

For this community, so far as it 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 fit and able for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. That was thought injustice.”

Translation — why should I work for anyone else when all I am getting is the same as everyone else? There was no incentive to work harder.

So Bradford decided to take bold action that would forever change the fate of the pilgrims and mold the future of a new nation.

He unleashed the power of free enterprise by invoking the underlying capitalistic principle of private property.

Every family was assigned their own plot of land to work as they wished and market their own crops and product.

The pilgrims were now personally motivated to work harder knowing that they controlled their own livelihood.

Bradford discovered that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive, without self interest.

So what was the result of Bradford’s experiment?

Bradford said, “this had very good success for it made all hands industrious so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.”

Is it possible that supply side economics could have existed before the 1980s?

Well, in fact it did if you read the story of Joseph and the Pharaoh in Genesis 41.

Following Joseph’s suggestion (Genesis 41:34), Pharaoh reduced the tax on Egyptians to 20% during the seven years of plenty. And “the Earth brought forth in heaps” (Genesis 41:47).

In the same way, the pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves.
So what did they do? They set up trading posts. They exchanged goods among themselves and with the Indians.

The profits allowed them to pay off their debt to the London merchants.

The success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans, and began what became known as the “Great Puritan Migration.”

The pilgrims had much thanks to give, especially to the Indians who taught them how to plant corn, skin beaver, etc.

The Real Thanksgiving is thanking the Lord for guidance and plenty.

With Bradford’s guidance, the pilgrims got rid of the communal model and thus ushered the advent of free market capitalism.

While most of the world has experimented with socialism for well over a hundred years, trying to perfect it, refine it, and reinvent it, Bradford and the pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently.

So when the pilgrims produced more food than they could possibly eat themselves, they invited the Indians to dinner.

And, voila, we got Thanksgiving.

And that’s what it was.

So inviting the Indians to dinner and giving thanks for all the plenty is the true story of Thanksgiving!

But the true hidden secret behind Thanksgiving is that capitalism and free market theory succeeds each and every time it is unleashed.

Can you think of a more important lesson one can derive from the pilgrim experience?

I hope you enjoyed this real story of Thanksgiving as you celebrate with your family and friends and hope you share this with them.

God bless America!

2 Comments to “The Real Meaning Behind Thanksgiving”

  1. Lee Welter says:

    I appreciate the excellent rendition of the real cause for Thanksgiving. A shorter version, delivered as a five minute speech, was well received by a Toastmasters club early this week.

    In addition, please be aware of http://www.CelebrateCapitalism.org (soon to be http://www.CelebrateCapitalism.com). You are likely familiar with American Association of Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), the freedom-lover’s medical society, and the several libertarian and free-market websites, for http://www.Cato.org ; http://www.FEE.org ; http://www.Mises.org ; http://www.ISIL.org, http://www.independent.org ; and others.

    Thanks for sharing the message of liberty and capitalism and for promoting the renewal of its support!

  2. franka duncan says:

    thanks so much for the enlightening meaning of thanksgiving now i can share this notorious info for the holiday with everyone . and i am going to pray and fast on this day. thanks again.