A Politically Correct Thanksgiving?

November 27, 2013
Image source http://tinyurl.com/kxxjc5s

Image source http://tinyurl.com/kxxjc5s

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, it can be valuable to consider the roots of this uniquely American holiday because too often its history and meaning is ignored or distorted in our secular age. Some schools are even using textbooks that suggest that the first Thanksgiving feast was about nothing more than expressing thanks to Squanto and some of the Indians, instead of thanking God.

The pilgrims were English Puritans, poor farmers who were struggling to practice their “separatist” religion in their homeland in the face of government harassment and religious persecution. In 1608 they emigrated from England to Amsterdam, and a year later, they moved to Leiden, Holland, where they remained for 12 years. However, they eventually became concerned about the corrupting influences their children faced in that country and, spurred by economic difficulties, they negotiated with the London Company for passage and the right to settle in Virginia, which was the northern part of the company’s jurisdiction.

Eventually, fewer than half of their members agreed to leave Leiden. As part of their agreement with the London merchants financing the voyage, they would travel with a larger group of other passengers. The Mayflower began its historic journey on September 16, 1620, with 102 passengers, including 37 from the Leiden congregation.

The voyage took 65 days, during which two passengers died. A baby was born at sea, and another was born while the ship lay at anchor off the Massachusetts coast. Conditions in the dark, crowded ship were appalling. Most of the passengers were seasick almost from the beginning, there was little to eat, they suffered from bleeding gums, infection, bites from vermin, hunger, rotting food, and they were not able to bathe for the more than two month passage.

When at anchor it became obvious that they would not reach the land in Virginia for which they had contracted, there were threats of mutiny. To ward off the threat and establish a basis of government in an unsettled region, they drew up the Mayflower Compact. This legal framework, based on biblical principles, provided for just and equal laws for believers as well as for non-believers; significantly, it also called for a common store of goods with each person, providing an equal share of ownership and use.

In that first harsh winter more than half the suffering settlers died from cold and starvation, and for some years after settlement the community still failed to flourish. In his history of the Mayflower Company, Governor Bradford indicated that the inherent problem was the collectivist system established by the Mayflower Compact. He wrote:

“The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years — that by taking away property, and bringing community into 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 any recompense … that was thought injustice.” Bradford, recognizing the power of incentive, wisely remedied the problem by assigning each family their own plot of land to work and manage as they wished, thus turning loose for the first time on the American continent the powerful engine of free enterprise. Bradford wrote that his privatization reforms “had very good success, for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.”

The resulting bounty allowed the settlers to trade and exchange goods with the Indians. It even allowed them to pay off their debts to the London merchants ahead of schedule.

Image source http://tinyurl.com/m5ro6gg

Image source http://tinyurl.com/m5ro6gg

Thus, when the practices of the settlers accorded with the laws of human nature, which laws their leaders recognized were authored by our Creator, the people prospered and were moved to give thanks to the Author of life and natural law.

As we study the lives of these first settlers and the history of their enormous struggle, the spiritual roots of our country are unmistakable and clear. When our textbooks and government schools distort that history or deny the powerful spiritual roots of our nation’s founding, we need to insist, with the same strength of conviction shown by those courageous settlers, that their story be told fully and truthfully. When socialist proposals are put forth for “comprehensive health care” and other collectivist ideas, our children need to know that these ideas were tried and have failed not only in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, but right here in America nearly four hundred years ago.

Since those first, difficult days our country has been richly blessed like no other on the face of the Earth. As we gather with our families and contemplate the extraordinary blessings of freedom and bounty we enjoy as Americans, let us resolve, like those first settlers who risked all for their faith, to thank God from whom all blessings flow.

In this spirit, my family and I wish you and yours a very happy and most blessed Thanksgiving. Let us all especially pray for the families and the safety of our troops overseas, remembering also to thank God for their success.

By: Kelly Payne

Kelly Payne is a high school Social Studies teacher in Richland SC.  She has been heavily active in the tea party movement from the beginning.  She is very involved in the GOP and grass-roots political efforts. Kelly ran for State Superintendent of Education in 2010. She served as South Carolina Sate Co-Chair for the Michele Bachmann Tea Party Coalition. Kelly began writing for The South Carolina Conservative Dot Com in 2012.


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Tags: Mayflower, Mayflower Compact, thanksgiving, William Bradford

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