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  • Morning Bell: Giving Thanks for the Free Market

    As truly an American holiday as Thanksgiving is, it was not actually made a formal federal holiday until 1941. And it wasn’t even routinely celebrated nationally on the fourth Thursday of every November until after President Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Address in 1863. Still, the holiday does have a strong basis in our nation’s history—a history that is all too often left untold.

    As described by Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford in his diary Of Plymouth Plantation, the first Pilgrim winters in America were tough. The colonists failed to produce adequate food and shelter, and as a result, many did not survive. But eventually the colony rebounded. The Pilgrims did build sufficient homes and did plant enough crops to feed the entire colony. So great was their bounty that they celebrated with a harvest feast that eventually became the Thanksgiving holiday that we celebrate today. But what was the key to the colony’s turnaround? What drove them from poverty to prosperity? The answer may surprise you.

    When the first Pilgrims founded the Plymouth Colony, all property was taken away from families and transferred to a “comone wealth.” In other words, the Pilgrims tried to do away with private property. The results were disastrous. According to Bradford, the stronger and younger men resented working for other men’s wives and children “without any recompence.” And the women forced to cook and clean for other men saw their uncompensated service as “a kind of slavery.” The system as a whole bred “confusion and discontent” and “retarded much employment that would have been to [the Pilgrims’] benefit and comfort.” Unable to produce their own food, some settlers “became servants to the Indians,” cutting wood and fetching water in exchange for “a capful of corn.” Others tragically perished.

    It was not until private property rights were restored and every man was allowed to “set corn for his own particular” that prosperity came to the colony. Bradford reported, “This had very good success for it made all hands very industrious. … [M]uch more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. … Women went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn.”

    A profoundly religious man, Bradford saw the hand of God in the Pilgrims’ economic recovery. After witnessing this experiment “amongst godly and sober men,” Bradford concluded that the elimination of private property was incompatible with human nature. He described those who thought they could make men “happy and flourishing” by taking away their property as “vain … as if they were wiser than God.”

    Today, as families across America gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, let us give thanks to God for the many blessings he has bestowed upon us. But let us also not forget the Pilgrims’ lesson on private property that all too often is forgot in Washington, D.C.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    25 Responses to Morning Bell: Giving Thanks for the Free Market

    1. Howard Mueller, 20 H says:

      Excellent essay on historic points in the Pilgrim story that have never been revealed in my 83 years. The drawing in of God, free enterprise vs.communism,

      and President Abe Lincoln tells a very important short factual story that every young student should learn!

    2. Tom Wood, Hickory Hi says:

      I do hope our politians remember this too, as sometimes our rights and property rights seem to be leaving us. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

    3. Dana Carley, Marlbor says:

      I just finished reading the book "Mayflower" by Nathaniel Philbrick. When I read the part about the pilgrims being given their land back (as opposed to community owned) and that it had the effect of more productivity, I thought that this is a lesson we always need to remember!!

    4. Judy, Somerville says:

      I didn't realize that the Pilgrims lost their property rights and "It was not until private property rights were restored and every man was allowed to “set corn for his own particular” that prosperity came to the colony." That is a great lesson for us today. Redistributing the wealth and socialism have never worked and never will. Americans will always help each other because it is the right thing to do, not because we are forced to do it. Thanks for the wonderful free market lesson.

    5. Alton Drew, Atlanta, says:

      Thanks for sharing this untold portion of colonial history. Over the years I've doubted the politically-correct tainted version of the origins of Thanksgiving. While most of us would have preferred a more harmonious meeting between Native Americans and white colonists, the vision of both groups sitting around the fireplace like a scene from the Waltons TV show just doesn't jive.

    6. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      There are those who'll probably be giving thanks for socialism today.

    7. grandmasue says:

      I very happily DONATE to less fortunate people…. but that is done by me as a charitable gift.

      When those in power decide that I MUST give to others, that is simply stealing from me. The Pilgrims first experiment taught them the results of that arrangement. I wish our government would learn from history!!!

    8. Clearhead says:

      Let us also not forget that AGENDA 21 (of the "United Nations") — as well as the "Humanist Manifesto" proposes to enact the exact same idiotic scheme of stupidity for the WHOLE WORLD !! Thanks, "progressives" , but NO THANKS !!!!

    9. Jeanne Foster says:

      Money and resources can increase not by government laws but willingly and by respecting others will and ability…teach a fish to fish and you will not be giving more fish to fishermen! Help others by example and by a first hand out, then support free enterprise, not another generation of welfare NOT by breaking the backs of honest workmen, not ny robbing Peter to pay for Paul but by endorsing and protecting the honest citizens.

    10. Gloria, Aurora, IL says:

      I am so thankful for our unique founding. I marvel and am frequently in awe of the purpose God had for the Pilgrims and all they endured. Bradford was a wise man to notice the link between survival and personal responsibility and not dismiss the plain evidence of such a failed system.

      The concept of private property is well illustrated in the Bible even to be so lofty so as to be considered in the Ten Commandments: Thou shall not steal [other people's private property]. Thou shall not covet [other people's possessions]. Even when we as believers are encouraged to give and share with those among us who are the 'least of these,' we are not to do so out of obligation and compulsion, but rather willingly and with a cheerful heart.

      Contrast that with our government's way of compelling us: confiscation of our income under legal penalty in order to appropriate it for someone else's unearned benefit. To be sure, a losing proposition all the way around. When all is said and done, there are no winners!

      There is so much wisdom in our founding principles and much lack of understanding in how many modern Americans seek to impart "equality" and "social justice."

      I'd rather hope for God's justice. Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Americans.

    11. Syd Dursse, Hillsbor says:

      This is the real reason to be thankful. And thanks to those who are able to read and interpret the cryptic language of William Bradford.

    12. Robert, North Richla says:

      We do not have a "free" market today. 140 million people providing benefits for 100 million people on various welfare programs is not a free market. When our combined government (federal and state) controls over 45% of GDP – that is not

      a free market. The last time we had a true free market would have been in the 1960's when the government only confiscated 29% of our GDP.

    13. Pingback: Morning Bell: Giving Thanks for the Free Market – Heritage.org (blog) | Current Market News

    14. Joe Hoagland, New Br says:

      Great story of a great beginning. And as a former Marine, who defended this country for 14 years, at age 68 I am now well aware of the progression over the past 150 years. A progression still not recognized today by the people, nor the media and for the most part, not even by those who say they promote and protect this grand experiment in self-government described above.

      Today the very same country and its people, talked about above, is virtually Communist with better than 90% of Karl Marx;s ten planks from the Communist Manifesto now part of the Corporate USA's sponsored statutes/regulations, with a foreign owned bank – FED – printing fiat currency and the citizens as servants to the government. Gone are the days of "public servants" and actual ownership of anything by the citizens – 'certificate of Title vs. Title' – and the common law upon which the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were based. Then the progression began to a country administered by Admiralty/De facto/Corporate law and all its citizens regarded as corporate entities, bundled, traded and utilized as bonded surety for the national debt held by the international banking community and other private interests.

      When will the united States, if ever, return to "a government of, by and for the people"? That question will be answer in the positive with the same spirits expressed and performed by the Pilgrims or in the negative by a continuation of the 'worshiping of the government' as the god of the people. As Mordecai told Esther as she sought the attention of the King, "For such a time as this…" again rings true.

      Will the people of the united States recognize that they once again serve a 'king and his court', having given up their sovereignty for the belief they will be cared for? Will they recognize and rebel against the 'veiled slavery edicts' under which they live? Will they recognize that freedom requires both vigilance and maintenance if it is to continue? Or is the price of freedom too great for a vast number of the people of the united States because of the loss of their work ethic along with their knowledge that every right is coupled with a responsibility?

      The collective resolve of we, the people, is about to be showcased for the world to see. Will the last bastion of liberty and opportunity succumb to simple cries for 'something for nothing', 'live today for we die tomorrow' and '…owes me'? Is this our personal legacy to your family, to those who will follow in our footsteps?

    15. Pingback: Thanksgiving: Thoughts on Socialism and Capitalism | ChuckHuckaby.com

    16. Pingback: HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

    17. James Manning says:

      Nothing wrong at all with private property and with capitalism… but there is much wrong with a government that does not control greedy and devious deals between scheming and corrupt politicians and greedy, scheming, corrupt corporate, Wall Street, Federal Reserve and huge banking interests or the lobby and trial lawyer industry. There is no justification at all in letting these powerful interests get away with any form of underhanded or outright crooked dealings- period! If our politicians will not clean up this mess… maybe the citizens should band together and clean it up for them in a very abrupt way! Things are getting out of hand with the new generation of power and influence mongers and many of the natives are restless.

    18. W kerrigan, Arkansas says:

      It's amazing that from the beginning of this nation until now, we have seen that communal sharing of wealth and labor doesn't work. Europe has found that out and yet our leaders are going full blast to try to implement the same failing system in our nation. Wake up people before all your rights and property are taken away for the 'better good' of the state.


    19. Dr. Bill Chapman, Co says:

      God created this abundant universe /earth for all His children and this natural bounty should belong to all the citizens, equally. This includes all land, natural resources, water, air and the natural abundance which man has done nothing to contribute to its existence. We all should benefit equally from God’s gifts.

      Man should have the right to lease or develop these natural, God given gifts, but he should pay for this right/privilege to the Common Wealth Fund rather than to individuals that have amassed land, Water, air, and resources in order to demand these payments (rent) for themselves with no other justification other than their monopoly. (See ”Wealth and Poverty”, by Henry George for a full exploration of this gross inequity.)

      Man, should however, have complete, private, ownership over all his own personal efforts. The state should have no claim to one’s individual efforts. If one invents or creates a new good, service or process (electricity for instance) they should have full rights to this. If an individual person plowed a field and harvested a crop they should have complete, private ownership to their gain.

      The cost of the natural resources to create, develop, and distribute this new item should be paid to the common fund of all the people, instead of to a few persons who have a monopoly on the land or resources. If all payments made for the use of resources were made in this manner there would need be no taxes, state or national, imposed on the actual producers of value. The Common Wealth would be provided for abundantly. The only benefactors of a private resource society are the landlords and other non producing, non value adding monopolists.

      What the current recipients of this present, un-Christian like, inequitable society, does to justify their actions, is to set up ‘Strawmen’ arguments and then blast them. Communism has never worked, Socialism has never worked and believe me, Capitalism has never worked either. If we took a scientific attitude and approach to this problem, would we not try another path or do we admit defeat, letting the 1/10th of 1% of the population reap 85% of the wealth of our country while the 98% remaining population scramble for the remaining crumbs. We need to explore new and better ways.

      What we are currently doing, ’ain’t’ the way God meant for it to be. Take away the privatization of God’s gifts to man and you have eliminated all wars and other man made atrocities, unfairness and inequities.

      As to the first ‘Thanksgiving’ Celebrations I will bet that the Indians were not nearly as thankful as the land grabbing white folks. I bet they look back on this time and wonder why their forefathers had such a lax and inefficient illegal immigration policy. By the way, the way the Indians treated God’s gifts was much more equitable, just and spiritual than the way we currently do. Maybe we could learn something from our conquered and abused brothers and sisters.

      Happy Thanksgiving to all and to all WAKE UP.

    20. Dennis Deckard, Sadl says:

      Ah, yes. The blessings of opportunity given by the free market, protected by the natural individual right of property ownership. Such a great story that needs to be shared with all of our friends. I was not taught this properly in my public school.

    21. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      Thanks H for this heartfelt Americanism! As to what the true meaning of the Holiday is, you have my vote for this truism. "Thank God we don't have Communism!" Lest we forget, coming to the heart of the matter I support Glenn Beck in his revelations about the present day. There was a Top Down, Bottom Up and Inside Out strategy to taking out America. And hearing a White House insider refer to "the heart part.'

    22. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      The HEART part, is where Americans turn on their government, and are brought to hate their government! This is how it goes, from observation long term of Progressive Tactics:

      Health – AMA and APA were usurped a long time ago. The only entity giving them credibility is the government, but known Communists headed up these organizations. That's Public Record. If you want Americans to hate their government, start messin' with their health.

      Education – Dumbed down, wrong headed policies, stupid things have beset American Education. Americans are mad at public schools for fifty years of crazy stuff. It is enough to break your heart (if you have one.)

      Agriculture – Crazy impossible 'food safety' hits our Aggies three times a year whether it is needed or not. Progressives have been after Agriculture since the New Deal. Burn the feedstock for gasoline additive? People will starve.

      Repression – Generalized repression is a sure way to piss off the Americans, so we get statistical thought crime prosecutions, we get exaggerated victimology, EPA kills businesses, Income Tax, you name it and Americans have put up with it. Unreasonable Search has become Public Policy.

      Transportation – Oh! Americans love their cars! Gasoline was twenty cents a gallon. And the Airlines! They get punished on a regular schedule! Unions are squashing the whole sector!

      We understand the HEART part. Clear to me Obama makes smoke screen with another "Do Nothing Congress" while behind the scenes he cranks up the HEART part with his Agencies (no, not our Agencies, they serve the Foreign Interest).

    23. Lwesson, Tejas says:

      Adam Smith in his book, The Wealth of Nations, dwelt on the moral compass that industry should have. That is conveniently forgotten. "Free" Trade has reduced our national industrial core for short term profit at the expense of the Nation and her peoples. Shameful.

    24. Candace Laughlin, Tu says:

      Thank you.

      And please keep at it. These times are perious.

      Candace Laughlin

    25. and2therepublic, ill says:

      "Mine is better than ours." – Benjamin Franklin

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