In America, today is a day to get together with family and friends and reflect on our blessings – which are many!
One of my ancestors, Peregrine White, was the first child born to the Pilgrims in the New World. His mother Susanna, gave birth to Peregrine aboard the Mayflower in November of 1620 while the ship was anchored in Provincetown Harbor. His father, William, died that winter.
The pilgrims faced death and the uncertainty of a new, little explored land so that they could establish a place where they could worship freely.
With the help of Native Americans that befriended them, they learned how to survive in this “New World”. Today we can be thankful for our freedom because of the sacrifices that these pioneers made to worship god in a way that they chose without government control and persecution.
One other interesting history lesson about the Pilgrims was that they initially decided that all food and land should be shared communally. After almost starving to death, they decided that each family should be given a plot of land and be able to keep the fruits of their labors. Thus those that worked hardest could, in theory, reap the benefits of their extra labor.
The result? A much more bountiful harvest that everyone was thankful for. Thus, private property and keeping the fruits of one’s labor lead to increased productivity and a more bountiful harvest.
Perhaps this is the root cause of Thanksgiving!
This story is passed down generation to generation in my family. But if you would like more proof, read the words of the first governor of the Plymouth Colony, William Bradford:
“And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, or that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. 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 wold have been thought great tyranny and oppression.”
William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647, ed.
Samuel Eliot Morison (New York : Knopf, 1991), p. 120.