Jerry Bowyer: The Colonists’ Early Lesson on Economics

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Townhall Review
November 21, 2018

The origin of Thanksgiving goes back to the Plymouth plantation, founded by the Pilgrims in 1620. You may have learned that in school, but I bet you didn’t learn this in school: the original Thanksgiving came after the settlement abandoned socialism in favor of capitalism.


It appears that the original charter adopted a form of communal ownership and required equality of income. You’re probably not surprised that this led to starvation and, as a consequence, plague. After two years, the colonists did something which few socialists since have done—they learned from their mistake, and instituted private ownership. The starving times ended, the colonists traded their surpluses with the Natives and the new abundance was celebrated with a day of Thanksgiving.


It’s not just about food, it’s about freedom. Socialism is en vogue again today, but maybe this time around we can learn from history before we repeat its errors.

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