A Thanksgiving Lesson

WHAT THE PILGRIMS CAN TEACH US By Howard Rich || The Separatist Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock in November 1620 began their new settlement utilizing overtly communist economic principles.  In addition to common ownership of the land, the Pilgrims farmed corn on a communal plot and divided their harvest…


By Howard Rich || The Separatist Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock in November 1620 began their new settlement utilizing overtly communist economic principles.  In addition to common ownership of the land, the Pilgrims farmed corn on a communal plot and divided their harvest evenly amongst themselves.

This is the theoretical Marxist utopia — minus indoor plumbing, NPR, MSNBC and portable electronic devices powered by Solyndra solar panels, naturally.  But did this early communist experiment work?  Did it succeed at putting food on the table?

Not according to William Bradford, an early Pilgrim governor of the colony best known today as the “Father of Thanksgiving.”

The communal arrangement initially employed by the Pilgrims was “found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort,” Bradford wrote in his journal, which was later compiled into Of Plymouth Plantation.

Why did this arrangement fail?  Because as has been the case from time immemorial, the equitable division of inequitably produced assets did not sit well with those whose labors yielded the harvest.

“For the young men, that were most able and fit for labor and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense,” Bradford wrote.

But enmity amongst settlers wasn’t the real problem encountered at Plymouth — it was a shortage of food.  In his book Mayflower: A Story of Courage Community and War historian Nathaniel Philbrick discusses how communal farming and common ownership produced a “disastrous harvest.”

Faced with the prospect of starvation, Bradford “decided that each household should be assigned its own plot to cultivate, with the understanding that each family kept whatever it grew,” according to Philbrick.

Not surprisingly this approach replaced infighting and starvation with harmony and industry — not to mention an abundance of food.

“This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content,” Bradford wrote.

In other words where top-down planning based on communist ideology failed — the enforcement of private property rights based on free market ideology succeeded.

“The change in attitude was stunning,” Philbrick writes. “Families were now willing to work much harder than they had ever worked before.”

“The Pilgrims had stumbled on the power of capitalism,” Philbrick added, noting that “although the fortunes of the colony still teetered precariously in the years ahead, the inhabitants never again starved.”

As the United States moves further away from its free market foundation this Thanksgiving, the example of Plymouth is worth considering.  It is a cautionary tale — a grim reminder of where the federal government’s present trajectory is going to take our nation.

Already the “fair share” policies of Barack Obama — who is making good on his stated desire to “spread the wealth” around — have failed to produce the promised economic recovery.  In fact America’s central bank is now printing money indefinitely as government’s debt and unfunded liabilities race past the threshold of sustainability.

The result of this “stimulus?”  Income levels are shrinking, joblessness remains chronically high and economic growth is anemic.  And lurking around the corner are massive tax hikes and the full implementation of Obama’s socialized medicine law — both of which will result in additional large-scale shifts from the “makers” to the “takers” in our society.

Incentivizing dependency has clearly failed to stimulate our economy.  From 2000-10, government’s cash assistance to the poor increased by 68 percent — after adjusting for inflation.  Health care assistance increased by 87 percent, housing assistance by 108 percent and food assistance by 139 percent — again, all after adjusting for inflation.  Still, poverty in America climbed from 11.3 to 15.1 percent during that time period.

Government efforts to combat poverty have produced more poverty, in other words — and based on the ongoing entitlement expansion, the worst is likely yet to come.

As we gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, let’s not only remember the lessons of Plymouth — let’s commit to proclaiming the virtues of self-reliance, property rights and free markets more boldly than ever.  Otherwise we’ll have even less to be thankful about next year.


Howard Rich is chairman of Americans for Limited Government. He is also a syndicated columnist for Liberty Features.

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SCBlues November 22, 2012 at 9:18 am

Of course Howard Rich would use the occasion of Thanksgiving to demean President Obama . . . I’m sure his Christmas message will be more of the same.

Sorrow's Kitchen November 22, 2012 at 10:33 am

Obama should be criticized on any day that ends in “y.” What is so demeaning about criticizing something you feel is not in your best interest?

We have failed as a nation in curing the many economic ills that continue to pull us down. Many people believe that public welfare in vast amounts will benefit everyone. In fact, it is the very cancer that has eaten away at our society.

Over a trillion dollars has been spent since the 1960’s to eliminate that sins of our system. But the idea of a great society has failed us. Yes, we are a melting pot of many, but the soup of our society has been diluted and it is weak. Unfortunately no one has offered a new recipe that will work.

SCBlues November 22, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Sorrow – watch FOX much?

Sorrow's Kitchen November 22, 2012 at 2:43 pm

You be the one with de Blues in your name. Nope. I do not watch Fox. I’m not a fanboy. You would have to put a gun to my head to make listen to O’reilly and his ilk.

I’m an adjunct professor at an apx 2,000 size college in VA. Have lots of time to read journals and such. You know the periodicals — the ones that use people called, “editors.”

Strawman November 22, 2012 at 7:27 pm

All power to Comrade President Obama!

FORWARD, Soviet!

Old Bike Dude November 22, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Sorrow, your nose is growing.

SEAMUS November 22, 2012 at 10:43 am

You’d think the son-of-a-bitch would give it a rest on Thanksgiving day – & Fits would do the same.

sweepin November 22, 2012 at 10:45 am

LOL! Agreed.

Smirks November 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm

A holiday from Howie? Now THAT is something to be thankful for!

Judy Chop November 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Sic can’t give it a rest, SEAMUS. He was born with a hard-on and he has to keep posting the pics to keep it rigid. When Old Sic passes on I hope he gets an undertaker that has a baseball bat.

‘Cause they gonna’ have to hammer it down to close the lid on the coffin!

MountainPenelope November 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Don’t worry Judy, I doubt it will be more than a small bump.

Todd November 22, 2012 at 10:46 am

Damn the author of this article is one ugly mofo. I’d probably hate liberals who were happier and generally better all around if I were cursed with that mug.

GreenvilleLwyr November 22, 2012 at 10:53 am

Bridget Keeney’s Thanksgiving story is much better.

sweepin November 22, 2012 at 10:56 am


Isotope Soap November 22, 2012 at 11:21 am

Can’t wait for this son of a bitch to tell us how Obama stole Christmas…

sweepin November 22, 2012 at 11:34 am

Not to worry. FOX News started beating the “War on Christmas” dead horse this morning.

I think it was Ainsley’s story. I’m sure O’Reilly is going to be pissed that he was scooped on it this year.

Smirks November 22, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Why won’t you let us put a nativity scene in every public place that exists? We need a plastic baby Jeebus at every street corner to please the lord! You don’t agree? STOP KILLING CHRISTMAS!

Lewis November 22, 2012 at 11:48 am

Fits, we were looking for a story about a turkey, not a story by a turkey.

Sailor November 23, 2012 at 10:40 am

A fucking men to that!

MountainPenelope November 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Good one.

Smirks November 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm

When I bought some food this Thanksgiving, I also bought some food to give to people less fortunate than I so that they could have a meal as well during this holiday. I’m sure they appreciate not being forced to deal with only what they are able to produce and starve on turkey day.

jopol tee November 26, 2012 at 12:59 am

Smirks, it doesn’t count if you brag about it.

Cancerman November 22, 2012 at 1:48 pm


gregorybgeddings November 22, 2012 at 3:01 pm

I just finished reading the book in question and it would appear that Mr. Rich read an entirely different book…if he read it at all. “Mayflower” is mostly an account of the hardships endured by the first settlers, their evolving and (mostly) peaceful relationship with the native tribes and how that relationship changed as European’s arrived and founded new and widespread settlements…thus displacing the original inhabitants.

For the most part “Mayflower” is about King Phillip’s War which according to the liner notes, was “a savage conflict that nearly wiped out English colonists and natives alike.” It goes into brutal detail about the battles and massacres committed by both sides. Pure historical narrative…without the self-serving spin that Mr. Rich reaps from it.

CNSYD November 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Say it isn’t so!!! You mean Howie and Sic Willie would actually spin facts to suit their own purposes??? Captain Renault is shocked to find this out!

Bemused November 22, 2012 at 4:01 pm

This is a far-right myth that has been debunked many times but remains a hardy perennial. The historian Richard Pickering debunks it here: https://my.familytreedna.com/family-finder-matches.aspx?ekit=TTRF9vN6Kbc%3d

Cancerman November 22, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Computer Breach Hits 12,500 SC Insurance Policies

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – South Carolina’s insurance department says hackers might have stolen key personal information for about 12,500 Nationwide Insurance policy holders after breaking into the company’s computer network.

The state agency said Wednesday that Nationwide reported its computer system was attacked seven weeks ago by crooks who collected Social Security numbers, drivers license numbers, and possibly birth dates.

Insurance officials say Nationwide quickly contacted the law enforcement authorities who are investigating.

The state agency says the risk of identity theft doesn’t involve any South Carolina state government computers.

South Carolina’s tax collection agency is reeling from a cyber-attack at that exposed the personal data of nearly 4 million individual filers and 700,000 businesses. Gov. Nikki Haley says state officials didn’t do enough to prevent that data theft.

FastEddy23 November 27, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Sounds like a whole bunch of taxpayers are due a fat tax refund … G’ment agencies dealing with secure private property data should be bonded and/or insured for any security breach. (The usual solution for incompetent g’ment collective mismanagement of taxpayer value is lose of job, pension and perks … but the big g’ment fools too often get away with these stupidities.)

SparkleCity November 22, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Philbreck’s book “Mayflower” is one of the best if not the BEST book I have read concerning the Plymouth colony and dispells many of the myths about the Pilgrams.

FITS appears to be to cherrypicking Mr. Philbreck’s book

I recommend anyone who wants to know the truth about “The First Thanksgiving” (including the bogus portrait depected on this website) to read that book. it’s a danm good read. So much so that I spent two days in the Plymouth, Mass. area a few months ago while on a vaction in New England as a result of reading Mr. Philbrecks excellent book

FITS leaves out how the Pilgrams basically looted the Indians stashes of food (abet unknowingly) and how both civilizations had a mutual dependence uupon one another (for a number of reasons) UNTILL about the 3rd generation of descendents of the origional colony basically stole & “ho-doo’ed” what was left of the indegenious population’s real estate and there was an uprising because the indegenious population had enough of the BS the Europeans were giving them.

Which resulted in “King Phillips” War which decimated the Native American population to the point of sending the defeated native Americans to the Carribbean as slaves.

I’m no “Bleeding Heart Liberal” by any stretch but to use one part of Mr. Philbeck’s excellent book to make a point about the failure of communial living is falling very short.

A matter of fact one only has to study a Monistary (sp) as an example of the success of communial living. All work and contribute for the better of the whole and it has worked for around 1500 years.

Again, I’m NOT advocating a socialized economy and am a big-timed capitalist but under certain circumstances a socialized life-style can be and is successful.

It’s hard to argue with 1500+ years of success when it comes to Monistaries(sp) and Convents.

never forget, during the “Dark Ages” which wern’t so “Dark” after all, it was the Monistaries 9sp) and Convents that kept western Europe from totally collapsing into chaos.

Judy Chop November 22, 2012 at 7:30 pm

God bless you my son! For many years I purchased chicken eggs from a monastery near Monks Corner. The chickens were well cared for and truly blessed. I struck a deal to buy the poultry manure form the monks as it was wonderful on my organic garden beds.

However, PETA stepped in and forced the monks to get out of the chicken business. Now I can no longer buy the blessed poultry manure. I truly miss my Holy Shit.

SparkleCity November 22, 2012 at 7:35 pm


It appears it is Mr. Rich who was cherrypicking but FITS dosen’t get off the hook by passing off Mr. Rich’s column as the “be all and end all”

Agian, Philbrecks’s “Mayflower” is a damn good read. My paperbacked edition is almost dog-eared.

I (as most “boomers” who participated in a number of “Thanksgiving” programs at school and church without knowing the real truth of the Plymouth Colony) learned a lot by reading this book and making a point to visit Plymouth to the point of earning Mrs. “SparkleCity’s ire by dragging her around the Plymouth area for two days. She reminds me of that every now and then….

I was never really interested in that era untill reading that book and now I’m kinda hooked. That and the Crusades,Celtic history and the Middle East in general (of which I have a vested interest in)

SparkleCity November 22, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I know of the Monastery near Monks Corner and it seems like I read about PETA screwing up the Monastery’s successful egg business now that you mention it.

Fuck a bunch of PETA.

Maybe the Monks can get into the brewing business like their brothers in Belgium who have produce the most desired & sought after beer in the world.

I love animals myself but again, fuck a bunch of PETA.

sweepin November 22, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Mepkin Abbey is growing mushrooms now. They seem to be just as good at that as the egg production too.

FastEddy23 November 27, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Resulting in? … Outta sight side effects?

Smirks November 22, 2012 at 10:33 pm

PETA: Fighting consumption of animals while euthanising animals by the thousands. Fuck those guys.

Great posts guys.

? November 22, 2012 at 10:45 pm

*Again, I’m NOT advocating a socialized economy and am a big-timed capitalist but under certain circumstances a socialized life-style can be and is successful.*

While this point is debatable, I would say that the ONLY circumstance surrounding its possible long term success is that it would be VOLUNTARY participation for members in all aspects.

MountainPenelope November 23, 2012 at 2:58 pm

It’s Howie that cherry picked the book.

FITS doesn’t read. He knows all. If you don’t believe him, just ask.

Eagle Milk Samich November 23, 2012 at 8:13 pm

I tried to join PETA once, before I knew what it was. I thought it was People who Eat Tasty Animals. Oh well…

Wednesday evening, right at dusk, I went over to a friends house in Lexington County to help him tear down a beaver dam. As it turned out the biggest beaver I ever did see came swimming across the pond. I got my Winchester Model 94, 30-30 from my truck and proceeded to lay down a line of fire. I waxed his old beaver arse on about the 6th shot. (Turned out it was a female so I guess I waxed her poon tang.)

My buddy and I skinned out Ms. Beaver and we barbecued both the hams on Thanksgiving day. I’m telling you beaver meat is sweet. High in protein. I saved the two front teeth and I’m whittling a real nice pair of earrings for the Mrs. I’m hoping to scrimshaw miniature confederate flags on each tooth. Should make for a dandy pair of ear bobs. Damn good Thanksgiving out here in Pelion.

FastEddy23 November 27, 2014 at 2:36 pm

This time ‘o year, that female was probably “with cubs” … Oh, well.

FastEddy23 November 27, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Basically correct review … Spun a bit darkly, but, yes, the other thing the original Pilgrams learned from the local quasi-capitalist Natives … How to be in the real estate game. … and “down east” has yet to recover …

The Tax Man Cometh November 22, 2012 at 7:37 pm

A tax audit of Mr. Rich is called for

He will then have to spend all his time explaining his questionable tax deductions

Rather than publishing his tripe here

OhNoNotAgain November 22, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Leaves out the part where the starving colonists were fed by the aboriginals. Seems they needed some socialistic charity to get their captalist utopia a chance to survive before it thrived.
Sounds like a bunch of hooey.

FastEddy23 November 27, 2014 at 2:28 pm


Do I Know Hooey? November 23, 2012 at 8:23 am

Everything this guy writes is


Wonder how much he pays Fits to post his


Ralph Hightower November 24, 2012 at 4:22 pm

NY Real Estate baron and carpetbagger, Howie Rich, is a loser! The only candidate that it successfully bought and owns is “Hurricane Katrina” Shealey.

BIN News Editorial Staff November 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm

howie – the voucher clown.
sic(k) willie – a voucher pimp.

vouchers – a huge scam on S.C.

vouchers – would do nothing but leave those who need help the most even further behind.

voucher pimps don’t care – as long as howie the voucher clown keeps sending his carpetbugger money.

Bozo the Voucher Clown November 25, 2012 at 8:19 pm

I think kids of all capabilities should be taught together so no kids are left behind.

Everyone should be taking the short bus to school and learning to read at the same pace as the dumbest motherfucker in class, that includes the retards.

toyota kawaski November 26, 2012 at 8:39 am

yesah you can stick a turkey leg up my ass but just today. Yesah my ladyboy wife saved the feathers for your dome!

FastEddy23 November 27, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Is all true!
By that spring of that Plymouth Thanksgiving year, more than one half of all of the original Pilgrims had died of disease and starvation.
That spring while visiting the local Natives’ village to beg for more handouts, the Natives showed the emaciated Pilgrams how a functioning farmer hunter gatherer society was supposed to work, mostly based on a simple form of capitalism with designated family farming, cooperative hunting excursions and a crude barter system …
By the end of that Thanksgiving Summer, the Pilgrams, following the Native capitalistic like system and unplanned division of labor, had recovered enough to share their surpluses with the Natives … all were well feed and stocked up for winter.
It might be noted that the local Natives also showed the Pilgrams how to fish … ;-)


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