The Real Story of Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving cph.3g04961

Like the story about Washington cutting down the cherry tree and throwing a dollar across the Potomac River, the story of Thanksgiving we tell our children is just that, a story. The real story of Thanksgiving is far more interesting and meaningful. 

The famous oil canvas above, The First Thanksgiving 1621 by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899) illustrates some of these common misconceptions. Pilgrims did not wear such outfits, and the Wampanoag are dressed in the style of Native Americans from the Great Plains.

The real story, however, is far more basic and fundamental than dress and food. It is about the foundational principles of our nation. Here are just two articles about the real story of Thanksgiving.

“Many people believe that after suffering through a severe winter, the Pilgrims’ food shortages were resolved the following spring when the Native Americans taught them to plant corn and a Thanksgiving celebration resulted," wrote Benjamin Powell in an article posted on the LP blog in 2013.

"In fact, the pilgrims continued to face chronic food shortages for three years until the harvest of 1623. Bad weather or lack of farming knowledge did not cause the pilgrims’ shortages. Bad economic incentives did.”

Richard J. Maybury wrote about "The Great Thanksgiving Hoax" in an article posted on The Humble Libertarian blog in November 2011.

He explains that before 1622, Plymouth colony operated under what today we would call a socialist system.

“… all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means" 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." A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out only what he needed.

“(Colonial Gov. Williiam) 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." Also, "the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak." 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. 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, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.”

Now that you know the real story


from the Libertarian Party of North Carolina 


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