Next week, we will not be publishing an issue of the Liberator Online as Thanksgiving falls on the day we normally publish, and we encourage you to spend time with family and friends, celebrating all the things for which you are thankful. In case you're curious, I'm thankful for your continued readership and support of The Advocates.
To add a bit of Liberty to the celebration, I'm excerpting an article James W. Harris published in our Thanksgiving issue last year about how it was free enterprise that saved the Pilgrims from disaster from award-winning historian Nathaniel Philbrick:
In April, [Plymouth Colony governor William] 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 previous years, the men had tended the fields while the women tended the children at home.
â€˜The women now went willingly into the field,â€™ Bradford wrote, â€˜and took their little ones with them to set corn.â€™
. . .
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.
Governor Bradford tells the story himself in his book History of Plymouth Plantation, taken from his journals kept between 1630 and 1651, and recognized today as an American classic. Bradford describes the problems of the communal system (spelling has been modernized):
For this community [of food and property] . . . was found to breed much confusion and discontentment, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort . . .
For the 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 menâ€™s wives and children without any recompense. The strong . . . had no more in division . . . than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labors and victuals, clothes, etc . . . thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. And menâ€™s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it.
Bradford then describes the dramatic results of the shift to private plots and individual incentives:
This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn, which before would allege weakness and inability, whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression."