On November 3, 2008 I originally printed the essay below. We have reprinted it each year on following Thanksgivings, with small alterations to address issues of the time, and it never ceases to garner a huge reaction. The story below is 100% provably true (and footnoted accordingly), and the fact that most of you have never heard it before is scandalous to say the least:
What really happened in 1621, at the first alleged “Thanksgiving feast” in what would later become America?
If you were taught the origins of the day in any American public school in the last 50 years or so, here’s the common synopsis:
The Pilgrims, a bunch of idiotic white people, accidently stumbled upon what would later become America via Plymouth Rock.
The evil white settlers brought with them all of the most horrible traits of humankind; racism, sexism, disease and stupidity.
As winter set in and the vile conditions of the harsh New England landscape began to take their toll, the settlers began to die off as a result of famine, the elements, and their own pathetic lameness caused by being Caucasian.
Suddenly, as though a gift from the heavens themselves, a group of the most kind, gentle, giving people descended upon the Pilgrims with furs, food, intelligence, nobility and most importantly, generosity. Yes, the natives of the great land of America, known back in those days to racist white people as “Injuns” had arrived to save the day, bringing with them corn, crops, better shelter, intelligence, adaptability, and an unwavering desire to share.
The story concludes over the next many decades with the evil white people showing their thanks to the peaceful Native Americans by slaughtering them in cold blood, stealing their land, and turning the remaining members of the Indian race into a band of raving alcoholics and gambling addicts for all of eternity.
Years of political correctness, white guilt, and the inability to be honest when the facts are less than favorable to any group of people that isn’t dominated by white men has led us to the above recounting as the believed-to-be-true story of how Thanksgiving began.
Some of us have always known what a bunch of crap the depiction is. Facts, as Ronald Reagan liked to say, are stubborn things. The real events of Thanksgiving are known and have been known since they happened, in 1621 thanks to a man named William Bradford, who most people learned about (wrongly) and have long since forgotten.
Bradford was the governor of the Plymouth colony who kept copious notes in real time of all events occurring to the Pilgrims and is also, some believe, the true father of what later became known to be Capitalism, the American monetary system.
Bradford’s words have never been disputed. He wrote every day for more than 30 years as the Pilgrims assimilated into the colonies. Multiple sources confirmed more than most of his observations through simultaneous yet separate writings, all but irrefutably proving Bradford’s perception of events which were happening right before his very eyes. Sadly, this is unimportant to history revisionists. To them (and most of them are teaching your children) it is more important to twist facts, or make them up entirely, so that people in America are taught to hate themselves and their country, so that they will go through life atoning for, what in some cases are, non-existent mistakes of our horrific past.
The true story of Thanksgiving is actually one of the most inspiring tales of entrepreneurship and the human work ethic ever written. The true story of Thanksgiving highlights one of life’s eternal truths; each of us has the ability to rise above challenges seemingly greater than our skills and not just survive, but thrive if we desire to do so. The true story of Thanksgiving is about choosing to win and refusing to lose; which in the 17th century meant choosing to live and refusing to die. The true story of Thanksgiving is not only not shameful, it is one of the building blocks upon which the greatest nation in Earth’s history was built.
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.” This, in my opinion, furthers the notion that, at our core, most humans are both lazy and unmotivated, yearning not for some prideful pursuit of earning our keep, but always choosing the path of least resistance if we are so allowed. This is relevant today to the asinine arguments constantly made that Americans want to work. Malarkey; people will always choose wat’s easiest if they’re allowed to. If you give someone what they perceive to be free food and/or shelter in perpetuity, they will happily accept it, for it is in their nature to do as little as possible.
In the famed and fabled harvest feasts of 1621 and 1622, we’re told to believe that the Indians showed up and fed the settlers out of generosity, but this is absolutely false. The colonists had produced their own food, but very little. The prevailing condition during those years 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 changed. The harvest of 1623 was different. In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.
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. As has happened countless times throughout history, desperate, starving men deemed that “good enough” was no longer good enough.
Originally and prior to 1623, the pilgrims had operated under the “it takes a village” system and required that “all profits & benefits 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.” In other words, everything that everyone made, grew, harvested, invented or found was placed in one big pile for the entire community to share. A person was to put into the common stock all that he could, and take out only what he “needed.” In other words, it didn’t matter if a colonist had ever contributed a damned thing to the bounty; he or she was still entitled to his or her share of the food, drink and clothing. That share, incidentally, was determined solely by individual greed and desire, and based in no way on them having earned any of it or having contributed anything to it. Each person helped themselves to as much of whatever they desired.
This “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving in 1621 and1622. 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. No longer would there be a community pool of rations. No longer would few work so that all could have. He surveyed the land they held and 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, every family, every man, was required to produce his or her own food, shelter and clothing. It was left to each private land owner to decide whether or not they wanted to produce only enough for those who lived on their property, or whether or not they wanted to produce excess and sell or trade that excess to people less willing to work or take risk. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famine, for they had more food than they could use in the years that followed.
As for the Indians, it is true that the colonists and Native Americans shared some feasts, but both sides contributed equal amounts of food, labor and intelligence. It is also true that a century later most Indians had been slaughtered. It’s called war. It is vicious and devastating now, and it was more so then; the strong survive, the weak are conquered (and, apparently given free gaming land).
So this year as you enjoy your Thanksgiving feast, take a moment to bear in mind that while the media and Hallmark want you to believe that this is a day about celebrating friends and family, the truth is far greater than that. Thanksgiving is yet another day to celebrate the greatest nation on Earth and its stunningly noble beginnings. Enjoy the bounty that you have worked so hard to achieve; and if you somehow find yourself wanting for more this Thanksgiving, take a page from the Pilgrims and ask not “why me,” but rather ask “how can I?”