"...school children all over America
are taught the official Thanksgiving story,
and newspapers, radio, TV, and magazines
devote vast amounts of time and space to it.
...This official story is nothing like what really happened.
...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...
The problem with this official story
is that the harvest of 1621 was not bountiful,
nor were the colonists hardworking 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 fields.
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,"
"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."
...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,
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 out only what he needed.
This "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need"
was an early form of socialism...
Bradford writes that "young men that are 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."
...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 famines.
...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.
...after the switch there was "plenty of food,
which every man by his own industry may easily and doth procure."
...when the socialist system had prevailed,
"we reaped not so much corn from the labors of thirty men
as three men have done for themselves now."
...Thus the real reason for Thanksgiving, deleted from the official story, is:
Socialism does not work;
the one and only source of abundance is free markets."
Richard J. Maybury