Most Americans think of Thanksgiving as the courage of the Pilgrims that came to America on the Mayflower. What they do not know is that the Pilgrims were socialists who eventually became converts to capitalism.
In the book “Mayflower” by Nathaniel Philbrick, the voyage, founding and the daily doings of Plymouth, Massachusetts is discussed in great detail from the of diary Governor William Bradford. The first two years were brutal and the colonists were starving and greatly in debt. Here is the excerpt from the book:
“The fall of 1623 marked the end of Plymouth’s debilitating food shortages. For the last two planting seasons, the Pilgrims had grown crops communally – the approach first used at Jamestown and other English settlements. But as the disastrous harvest of the previous fall had shown, something drastic needed to be done to increase the annual yield.
In April, Bradford had decided that each household should be assigned its own plot to cultivate, with the understanding that each family kept whatever it grew. The change in attitude was stunning. Families were now willing to work much harder than they had ever worked before. In prvious years, the men had tended the fields while the women tended the children at home. “The women now went willingly into the field,” Bradford wrote, “and took their little ones with them to set corn.” The Pilgrims had stumbled on the power of capitalism. Although the fortunes of the colony still teetered precariously in the years ahead, the inhabitants never again starved.”
The fortune of the colony was precarious because the colony was deeply in debt to financiers back in Europe.
If social welfare did not work on a debt ridden agrarian colony over 500 years ago, how do we expect it to work today?