In America, on the fourth Thursday in November, we celebrate Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving 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.

November 1620

During November of 1620, Peregrine’s mother, Susanna, gave birth to him aboard the ship Mayflower anchored in Provincetown Harbor. His father, William, died that winter – a fate shared by about half of the Pilgrim settlers. (Imagine being a newly-widowed, single mother with two children in the wilderness of the New World.) Here’s a more detailed story from the History Channel:

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/mayflower-departs-england

The Pilgrims faced death and uncertainty in a new, little-explored land. Why? For many, it was to establish a place where they could worship freely and establish a life outside the direct control of the English crown. For others, it was the chance to live freely and establish a place to earn a productive living.

With the help of Native Americans that allied with and befriended them, they learned how to survive in this “New World.” Today, we can be thankful for our freedom because of the help of some of the native inhabitants and the sacrifices that the Pilgrims made.

Another interesting history lesson about the Pilgrims was that they initially decided that all food and land should be shared communally. But after the first dismal winter, and almost starving to death, they changed their minds. 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. There would be no forced redistribution of the bounty.

The result? A much more bountiful harvest, for which, everyone was thankful. Thus, private property and keeping the fruits of one’s labor led to increased productivity, a more bountiful harvest, and relative prosperity.

This is the root cause of Thanksgiving.

This story of the cause of Thanksgiving bounty is passed down from generation to generation in my family. We are descendants of Peregrine White, the baby born aboard the Mayflower. We don’t want to forget the sacrifices and the reasons for success.

Governor William Bradford

Would you 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 would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.

Quoted from William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647, ed. Samuel Eliot Morison (New York: Knopf, 1991), p. 120.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoying Thanksgiving