I am thankful that the real reason for Thanksgiving has not been altogether lost to time. It's a story of the triumph of freedom and industry, of the human spirit, and of goodwill and outreach. None other than George Washington himself agreed, and issued this proclamation establishing the last Thursday in November of 1789 as a day of Thanksgiving and a national holiday in the United States of America. Read on for the abbreviated true story of Thanksgiving.
First is the lesson that William Bradford and the Pilgrims undertook a dangerous journey, fraught with terrible hardship all for the freedom to worship God as they chose, free from the dictates of King or country.
That’s the first part everyone knows. The second is that the Pilgrims befriended Squanto and his tribe. That is another important lesson. Throughout history, too often strangers default to slaughtering one another. Had they done so here, our history would be very different. The natives did teach the Pilgrims valuable skills for working the land, but this is where the story we learned as children ends.
What has been scrubbed from the history books is that the original Mayflower Compact called for everything that was produced in the colony to go into a “common store” and everyone to contribute with “common service.” Many will recognize this as, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” which would be popularized by Karl Marx some 250 years later. More will recognize Marx as the “Father of Communism.”
Under this agreement, Bradford and his fellows suffered a brutal winter. Productivity (as it always is under socialist arrangements) was very low, as people did not produce according to their ability when there was no incentive. Most already knew how to grow crops and work the land, and while they were aided by the natives’ tips and teachings, they still under-produced. Many Pilgrims died from the harsh winter and the scarcity of food.
After enough death and misery, Bradford, who had become Governor of the colony, revised the Compact to give each family its own plot of land to work, and the product of which to keep and trade. Thus incentivized by the prospect of being masters of their own prosperity, the turnaround was phenomenal. The colony thrived and produced more food than they had thought possible, and resolved to share it with their new friends.
Yes, they were thankful for their friendship with Squanto and his tribe, as well as their guidance and help. But their Thanksgiving feast was to give thanks to GOD for the bounty which they now enjoyed.
We should never forget these lessons, as they are applicable throughout time.
Have a Happy and Blessed, and THANKFUL Thanksgiving.