Politics: The real first Thanksgiving - a rejection of socialism

Published by: Robert Laurie on Thursday November 22nd, 2012

Robert Laurie

By ROBERT LAURIE - Back in 1623, socialism failed, capitalism won, thus...Thanksgiving

This column is running concurrently at The Detroit News' website, TheMichiganView.com.  It's the place to be for Michigan conservatives, so check it out.

UPDATE: First a mea culpa.  This piece originally reference "John Bradford" when I mean to write "William Bradford." It has been corrected.  My apologies. Second, a clarification for some of the commenters. The meal in 1621 was a 3-day Harvest Festival intended to celebrate the first crop in the new world. In attendance were 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans. The collectivist system was implemented, and it was the last such crop until the privatization of 1623.  In the meantime, losses were heavy, and starvation was imminent. Accounts from the period do not refer to the 1621 festival as a Thanksgiving. However, the event in 1623 was specifically referred to as a Thanksgiving by William Bradford, making it the first such civilly-recognized observation in New England.

The other day, I was in a store where I noticed the shabby little tree from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Yes, instead of buying a stick and attaching it to a piece of wood, you can buy replica of Charlie's tree - made of the finest plastic China has to offer.

I took a second to reflect on the irony of buying a fake tree based on the real tree that Charlie Brown bought because he'd rejected fake trees as crass commercialization, and then realized: It was November first. Sometime in the night, miserable all-hours stock boys had come in, removed Halloween, and - Thanksgiving be damned -lined the shelves with Christmas goods.

This just isn't right. Sure, Halloween and Christmas are flashier. They get all the attention, and there aren't many good Thanksgiving movies aside from Planes Trains and Automobiles. So it's easy to overlook Turkey Day. I'm tempted to blame this on the media, the internet, or the acceleration of our daily lives. Unfortunately, I think the fault lies elsewhere.

As with most of our traditions, Thanksgiving has lost its luster due to the Left's constant grip on our education system.

It began back in the 70's, when ex-hippies began taking teaching positions. Within a decade, they'd managed to create the notion that Thanksgiving was somehow an unholy celebration of the slaughter of the Native American, the rape of the land, and white dominance over a new continent.

In reality, the first Thanksgiving was a celebration of rejecting the liberal-progressives of the era and their failed ideology. In 1620, the Pilgrim colony at Plymouth decided to turn its back on the ways of merry old England. This included a rejection of property ownership in favor of a collectivist system in which the labor and spoils would be shared. It failed miserably, and they endured three years of near-starvation as a result.

By 1623, they'd divided up the property so that each colonist had a piece of land to call his own. Whatever they didn't use to feed their families, they were encouraged to barter. This new system of private ownership and personal responsibility yielded a bumper crop, so they decided to have an enormous feast to celebrate their success and their gratitude for having survived potential destruction.

Obviously, this message won't play with the collectivists running the teacher's union, so the holiday has been diminished as decades of kids learn the politically-correct version.

Here in Detroit, Thanksgiving has fared a bit better. Despite what the stores would have us believe, Michigan's Christmas season doesn't really start until Santa makes his way down Woodward. The spectacle is one of Detroit's last great traditions - one that has, against all odds, managed to survive the city's collapse.

However, I can't help but notice that, this year, none other than John Dingell will be handling duties as Grand Marshall. Dingell, of course, is a huge tax and spend Democrat. He was a major backer of Obamacare, the auto bailout, and has a lifelong history of supporting the worst kinds of redistributive policies.

He should take a moment and think about that first Thanksgiving. If people like himself had prevailed back in 1623, there might not be a United States, or a Thanksgiving, at all.

Here's Plymouth Colony's Governor, William Bradford, describing the first Thanksgiving - the correct version - in his journal.

"The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato's and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.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. The strong. . . had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labors everything else, thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them.

And for men's wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it. Upon the point all being to have alike, and all to do alike, they thought themselves in the like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them. . . . Let none object this is men's corruption, and nothing to the course itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them.

They had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression. . . . By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the faces of things were changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God."