What Fresh Hell Is This?

November 26, 2013

The Thanksgiving Socialism Hoax (UPDATED TWICE)

And you all know what that means.  Besides the traditional traditions like Turkey, the newer traditions like Turducken, and the localized traditions like Alice's Restaurant, we're now seeing a new political narrative explaining how "first Thanksgiving was a celebration of abundance after a period of socialism and starvation."

Capitalist abundance (of course) after a period of (of course) failed socialism.  We're told by the very smart conservatives in our midst that it's one of the many truths we're not being taught about our Christian nation's capitalist beginnings by the godless liberal elite running (and ruining) our education system.

It goes at least as far back as this piece from 1999.

And it's total bunk, of course.

But let's start from that piece in 1999.  The writer, Richard J Maybury, contrasts the "official story":
...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
With "what really happened":
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," 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.
Now let's look at some real historians.  First about how the property was communally held.  From the NYTimes:
Historians say that the settlers in Plymouth, and their supporters in England, did indeed agree to hold their property in common — William Bradford, the governor, referred to it in his writings as the “common course.” But the plan was in the interest of realizing a profit sooner, and was only intended for the short term; historians say the Pilgrims were more like shareholders in an early corporation than subjects of socialism.

“It was directed ultimately to private profit,” said Richard Pickering, a historian of early America and the deputy director of Plimoth Plantation, a museum devoted to keeping the Pilgrims’ story alive.

The arrangement did not produce famine. If it had, Bradford would not have declared the three days of sport and feasting in 1621 that became known as the first Thanksgiving. “The celebration would never have happened if the harvest was going to be less than enough to get them by,” Mr. Pickering said. “They would have saved it and rationed it to get by.”[Emphasis added.]
And about that laziness?  The real historians have the context:
But Mr. Pickering said this grumbling had more to do with the fact that the Plymouth colony was bringing together settlers from all over England, at a time when most people never moved more than 10 miles from home. They spoke different dialects and had different methods of farming, and looked upon each other with great wariness.

“One man’s laziness is another man’s industry, based on the agricultural methods they’ve learned as young people,” he said.

Bradford did get rid of the common course — but it was in 1623, after the first Thanksgiving, and not because the system wasn’t working. The Pilgrims just didn’t like it.[Emphasis added.]
In any event, let's look at it another way.  There's this from the Teaparty:
The original colony at Plymouth Bay had been founded by Puritans who hoped to emulate the early Christians by keeping all their worldly goods in common.
So they lived a communal life to live in accordance with their faith.  The governor saw that it was a failure (or so their story goes) and then intervenes and imposes a more secular system on them.

And this is the story of Amurika they support?

Happy Thanksgiving.  You can go with the experts and their context or the political partisans looking to reinvent the past in order to see themselves.

UPDATE: Joseph Farah, founder, editor and CEO of Birther Central (aka World Net Daily), does the honors.

SECOND UPDATE: Local conservative writer Jerry Bowyer refloats this myth every year in one form or another.  Seems like one of those floaters was translated into Italian.  Congratulazioni, Jerry! Ora sei sbagliato in due lingue e due continenti!

1 comment:

Robin McMeeking said...

Sorry, it is the liberals that have rewritten history.
The following items are from Bradfords History of Plymouth Plantation
Page numbers referenced are PDF page numbers.

The communal character of the colony was to last for 7 years "(excepte some unexpected impedimente...)".
See item 3 on pg. 129
3. The persons transported & ye adventurers shall continue
their joynt stock & partnership togeather, ye space of 7. years,
(excepte some unexpected impedimente doe cause ye whole
company to agree otherwise,) during which time, all profits &
benifits that are gott by trade, traffick, trucking, working, fish-
ing, or any other means of any person or persons, remaine still
in ye comone stock untill ye division.
Also see item 2 on pg. 136 "Consider wheraboute we are, not giveing almes, but
furnishing a store house; no one shall be porer then another
for 7. years, and if any be rich, none can be pore."

Two miserable harvests were considered an unepected impediment
and the rules changed.
Pg. 224 This describes the harvest of 1622 after which changes were made.
Now ye wellcome time of harvest aproacbed, in which all
had their hungrie bellies filled. But it arose but to a litle, in
comparison of a full years supplie; partly by reason they were
not yet well aquainted with ye maiier of Indean corne, (and
they. had no other,) allso their many other imployments, but
cheefly their weaknes for wante of food, to tend it as they
should have done. Also much was stolne both by
night & day, before it became scarce eatable, & much
more afterward. And though many were well whipt
(when they were taken) for a few ears of corne, yet
hunger made others (whom conscience did not re-
straine) to venture. So as it well appeared yt famine
must still insue ye next year allso, if not some way
prevented, or supplie should faile, to which they durst
not trust. Markets there was none to goe too, but
only ye Indeans, and they had no trading comodities.

Pg 234, In 1623 before the spring planting:
So they begane to thinke how they might raise as much corne as they
could, and obtaine a beter crope then they had done,
that they might not still thus languish in miserie. At
length, after much debate of things, the Govr (with
ye advise of ye cheefest amongest them) gave way that
they should set corne every man for his owne per-
ticuler, and in that regard trust to them selves; in all
other things to goe on in ye generall way as before.
And so assigned to every family a parcell of land,
according to the proportion of their number for that
end, only for present use (but made no devission for
inheritance), and ranged all boys & youth under some
familie. This had very good success; for it made all
hands very industrious, so as much more corne was
planted then other waise would have bene by any
means ye Govr or any other could use, and saved him
a great deall of trouble, and gave farr better contente.
The women now wente willingly into ye feild, and
tooke their litle-ons with them to set corne, which
before would aledg weaknes, and inabilitie; whom to
have compelled would have bene thought great tiranie
and oppression.