Thursday, November 22, 2012

Socialism Didn’t Work in 1620 Either

Happy Thanksgiving.

As the nation that was once the Shining "City upon a Hill" we are on our way toward yet another wave of socialism.  We tried it under FDR and find ourselves struggling with his legacy of social security.  The other wave was under Johnson and his "war on poverty".  The double barrel legacy of medicaid and medicare haunt us today with massive amounts of fraud and expenses.

The third, and I predict LAST, wave is O'Bamacare.  Each wave is considered an entitlement. (What I don't understand is why free money from the State is considered an entitlement and consequently a right, while being able to keep your money that you worked so hard to earn is not).  Since O'Bamacare is so massive in scope, I think we will find ourselves struggling with it sooner rather than later.

The good news is, and I pray to God I am not being unrealistically optimistic, we have learned our lessons in the past.  Just like we did even before the nation was founded and will once again learn our lesson, albeit, the hard way.

On September 16, 1620, the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, England with 102 souls on board.

The Pilgrims were initially organized as a Collectivist society. Their contract with their European sponsoring businessmen stipulated that they would function as a Socialist group with each person contributing to the common good and in turn each receiving an equal share of the produce. The Plymouth Colony, its buildings, and its lands would all be owned in common.

William Bradford, Governor of Plymouth Colony, composed the 1620 Mayflower Compact during the voyage. Its purpose was to codify an agreement among the 102 settlers, including his 40 Pilgrims, to live together and to function as a group. All were to be treated justly and equally no matter what their religious beliefs, a truly revolutionary concept for the time.

The Mayflower landed the settlers of Plymouth Colony on December 21, 1620. The winter was cold and food was in short supply. Half of the Pilgrims died during that first winter, including William Bradford’s wife. During the next year, the local Indians befriended them and taught them to plant corn and to fish for eel and cod.

It became evident during this first crop year that few worked hard to produce crops and other goods for the benefit of the Colony. As a result, there was not that much food and prosperity after that first growing season. That first harvest festival in 1621 (Thanksgiving) was shared with their Wampanoag Indian neighbors. The Pilgrims gave thanks to God for what they had.

They really had not achieved abundance that first year. Even the strong and the able had not worked very hard. There was resentment and squabbling among the settlers over what little they did have.

Governor William Bradford realized Socialism was not going to work. He wisely abolished the Socialist principles on which the Plymouth Colony had been founded. Each family was then given a plot of land to farm and harvest for themselves. The settlers kept what they produced for themselves.

The Colony quickly became prosperous with more than sufficient food for everyone. They produced enough food and other goods to open a trading post where they traded with the local Indians.

With the profits they created, the settlers quickly paid off their sponsors. News of their prosperity spread, encouraging others to brave the perils of the New World and to enjoy its early blessings of liberty and prosperity.

William Bradford wrote in his Journal,

“The experience that we had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years...that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing – as if they were wiser than God.”

"For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without [being paid] that was thought injustice.”

“This [free enterprise] had very good success, for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.”


Long before Karl Marx and Barack Obama, America’s early settlers quickly learned that the principles of Socialism resulted in economic disaster and extensive personal suffering. These people at Plymouth Colony did not try to perfect Socialism. They quickly and permanently eliminated Socialism.

William Bradford and his fellow settlers were out of reach of their European masters and their business sponsors. They were the start of our great experiment in Liberty. They were free to work for their own benefit without fear that their government would take liberally from what they produced. They sowed the seeds of Liberty, religious freedom, and free enterprise that eventually led to the American Revolution, American Exceptionalism, and the achievement of the American Dream.

Let us be thankful for the lessons we've learned.  And let us pray we obtain the Wisdom to apply these lessons.

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