The Pilgrims, A Lesson in History

The Pilgrims didn’t have it all figured out, they even tried socialism. And guess what? It didn’t work.

William Bradford in his writings about the Plymouth Plantation, says that the food and other materials would go into a “common store.”1 Where goods are stored and shared. And what happens? Incomes the inheritance of all human beings, depravity, selfishness, and greed. Yes indeed, it is mentioned in Romans 1:28, Psalms 53:3, and Romans 3:23 (from the Holy Bible, NIV). What happens is, essentially, is that people get lazy. They start taking out more than they put in, because, everyone else is filling the common storage. As time goes on, everyone expects everyone else to contribute their goods to this “common storage.” In the end, you have starving citizens, which is exactly what the Pilgrims had.

Seeing this problem, the Pilgrims whipped out (what today would be the equivalent of) Capitalism. William Bradford writes,

At lengths after much debate, the Governor, with the advice of the chief among them, allowed each man to plant corn for his own household, and to trust to themselves for that; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. So every family was assigned a parcel of land… This was very successful. It made all hands very industrious, so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could devise” 2 

In other words, when everyone is eating everyone else’s food, you starve. When it is just you and those you provide for, no one starves. This solution created a thriving system, that no one person could operate. No one person can ensure that each citizen gets their necessary goods. But, the Capitalist system takes care of all of the problems by putting the responsibility and reward of producing their own goods in the hands of the citizens.

If the Pilgrims solution was not sufficient they would have all starved, and America would be a joke, a failed attempt at starting a country. Not only did the Pilgrims solve their problem, they also started a revolutionary system which ended up being the free market. Mark Levin says, “The free market is the most transformative of economic systems. It fosters creativity with inventiveness. It produces new industries, products, and services, as it improves upon existing ones. With millions of individuals freely engaged in an infinite number and variety of transactions each day, it is impossible to even conceive all the changes and plans for changes occurring in our economy at any given time. The free market creates more wealth and opportunities for more people than any other economic model.” 3

The Pilgrims had hit on something big, Mark Levin’s description of the free market is the result of the ideal of Capitalism. The Pilgrims solved their problem with private property. Which Samuel Adams says that private property is essential for true liberty.

Unfortunately, this important lesson in history about the Pilgrims is not being distributed as much as it should; instead a “half-truth” is being told. Rush Limbaugh quoted “See, I Told You So” chapter 6. Which said,

Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than as a devout expression of gratitude grounded in the tradition of both the Old and New Testaments. Here is the part that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belong to the community as well. They were going to distribute it equally. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community as well.”

The textbooks are making it nice and easy for you to forget this important lesson in history. I encourage everyone to find the truth, not just to listen to what anyone tells you, find the simple facts. The fact is, is that the Pilgrims learned a valuable lesson in the beginning of our nation that we should never lose sight of.


1: “Of Plymouth Plantation: Bradford’s History of the Plymouth Settlement” by William Bradford p. 72.
“Of Plymouth Plantation: Bradford’s History of the Plymouth Settlement” by William Bradford p 115.
3: “Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto” by Mark R. Levin p. 61.


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