Thanksgiving was declared first in 1624 after a bountiful harvest in Plymouth Colony. In present times, Thanksgiving begins The Salvation Army’s campaign enabling us to help others we’ve never met.
When the Pilgrims arrived in 1620, the natives taught them how to survive in their new home. They planted corn and it did well. But their system of ownership had followed them from England.
The land was held in common and all were expected to work according to their ability. The crops were then collected and shared among those who needed them.
The next two years were disastrous. William Bradford wrote a journal describing the travails of the colony. Over half the colonists perished from malnutrition. Governor Bradford documented how able bodied men refused to work because others benefited from their labor.
In 1623 The Governor divided the colony, giving each individual the right to produce what they could and keep and trade as they saw fit. The next several years saw such abundance that the former starving colonists shared with the natives who had helped some of them survive their socialist government.
The history of that journal is interesting. The British seized the meeting house where it was stored during the colonists’ war of secession we now call the Revolutionary War. In 1844 the manuscript was found in the library of the Bishop of London. Now you can buy it on Amazon.
The agricultural economy in England and much of Europe failed to provide bounty for over a hundred years after that. They didn’t have a William Bradford to help them discover the wonders that private property can provide.
As my recruits and I ring the bell at Fareway, people passing by will remember the hard times that most of us have experienced. They will remember the ones who helped them and decide it is their turn.
It is about time I acknowledged and thanked those who have helped me. First of all, every single person I meet inspires me with the joy of human fellowship.
Thank you to former publisher Brad Hicks, who gave me the opportunity to write this column ten years ago. Thank you to those who read it. Thank you to the paper for seeing the value in it enough to continue to publish it. Thank you to Governor William Bradford for discovering the miracle of private property.
Most importantly there is my wife Dawn, who proofs it for grammar and also for whether it communicates my ideas to people who have better things to do than read nonsense. My grandpa’s neighbor, when I inquired about “that girl on the horse” was correct 40 years ago and is today. She’s still too “goody-good” for me. So I keep trying harder, like the survivors of Plymouth Colony.