Ep. 12 Happy Thanksgiving! The Real Story of Pilgrim Prosperity [audio and text]

Ep. 12 Happy Thanksgiving! The Real Story of Pilgrim Prosperity [audio and text]

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Did you know the Pilgrims not only pioneered self-government in the New World; they were also the first capitalists!  Thank the LORD for His faithfulness to their cause of liberty.


Full text of audio:

Hello there, ladies and gentlemen! And a Happy Thanksgiving to all! One of my favorite holidays and times of the year, the whole house smells like pies, and we are getting ready to spend time with our loved one, with family and friends. In this season, it’s nice to take a break from our normal show schedule and give you a bonus edition to enjoy for the festive season. So with a hearty Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving from Feet To The Fire, we offer you…

The Real Story of Pilgrim Prosperity

Welcome to Feet To the Fire, the new voice of conservative dissent! And as we tell our narrative, we will be holding historical revisionists feet to the fire as well as your run-of-the-mill, every day, pinko-commie-socialist (liberals). You see, Karl Marx didn’t really come up with the idea of socialism or communism or what we would generally call collectivism: the society taking control over everyone’s private property, confiscating it and then empowering the bloated central government to hand it out at will; what we would call institutionalized theft and wealth redistribution. That idea is much older than the 19th century. It’s as old as the hills! As old as evil on the earth actually! It’s called stealing and oppression, and it certainly overturns the biblical model of economics that God had originally ordained for mankind and for Israel in the Old Testament Law and the Ten Commandments. Remember one of those key rules? “Thou shalt not steal.” It was rather this biblical model that the Founding Fathers, and even before them, the Pilgrim Fathers, used in establishing the right to life, liberty and property, cornerstones of American freedom. Private property rights, which is the more appropriate, philosophical term for what we know as capitalism or free enterprise, is enshrined in our founding documents and heritage, and it is the sure guardian for a free society. It is the engine of enterprise and prosperity, the motivation behind the Puritan or American work ethic, and it is the dignified reward that God has prescribed for every hard worker.

And yet the Pilgrim’s actually found this out the hard way unfortunately, when, long before Marx was on the scene, they experimented in, that’s right, you guessed it, collectivism! When they first began their colony at Plymouth Rock, they had the hair-brained idea to try a socialist system and have everyone work for the common storehouse. They abolished private property, destroyed the colony’s work ethic, and created strife and disunity in their fledgling community. And having soon realized that men’s way was foolish and futile, they quickly repented back to God and his ordained model of hard work and private ownership, and well, call it what it is, capitalism. America didn’t invent it, God did. Biblical economics, baby! It’s just America learned very early on, as far back as the Pilgrims, that if you want to have a successful and prosperous and free society, you just need to do things God’s way… and that means, no stealing.

So here goes, right from the mouth of one of the leaders of the Pilgrims, a governor of the colony, signer of the Mayflower Compact and proud ancestor of American liberty… William Bradford. The following transcript is from his literary work called Of Plymouth Plantation, a detailed journaling of Pilgrim life from the very beginning. And this, dated 1623, shows us what he had to say about early Pilgrim economics, and we could learn a valuable lesson.   And I am certainly going to intersperse my commentary throughout because it’s just too great of a story not to comment. Plus, the old English gets a little sticky. So here goes, Chapter 16, William Bradford Of Plymouth Plantation,1623. Here’s what he wrote. Now as a background, the colony was experiencing a shortage, and he starts out by saying when they moved to a capitalist, personal work ethic, private property model, it yielded a whole lot more abundance to provide for everyone than what they had in their collectivist model which he then describes in the second portion. So he says this…

“All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. [Supplies from the mother country]. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular [There it is, right there, they’re instituting capitalism, private property ownership, biblical economics, work for your own corn.] and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, [again, private property ownership] according to the proportion of their number, for 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 [Here it is. The Puritan and American work ethic] it made all hands very industrious [And that’s New Testament teaching, too, right? I’d mentioned it before. It says in 2 Thessalonians, “If a man shall not work, he shall not eat. And so that’s a biblical principle we see all throughout, that you need to work to earn the bread you eat. So let me, let me continue.] This had very good success [he said], 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. [So he said people were happier and there was a lot more abundance with this model.] The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn [because, this is commentary, they had a personal investment in what they were doing because they owned the property]; which before [here’s what he’s saying; previously in the old collectivist model] before [the women] would allege weakness and inability [they would just act lazy and fake being weak]; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression. [They felt in the old collectivist model that if you told them to go out in the filed and work that it was oppression.]

The experience that was had in this [custom] common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients applauded by some of later times [And, basically what he just said was this. Going with that collectivist model, tried for many years and amongst really god guys, actually proves the vain, empty philosophy of the pride of Plato and other philosophers who rejected God’s model. And here’s what he said they tried]; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing [There it is! That’s communism! And he says this]; as if they were wiser than God. [They found out, this didn’t work.] 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. [So they weren’t’ working; they were disunified and upset. And he describes each kind of people group.] For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine [complain] that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. [Here’s what he’s saying. The younger guys were like, ‘I seriously have to work for other people’s families and give away my labor and hard earned money and corn? And that’s the constant complaint against socialism. It kills a work ethic. Nobody wants to work when they have no stake in the ownership, when all their stuff just gets stolen and taken away.] The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. [So the strong guys were thinking ‘not fair’ that the weak guys or the lazy guys who weren’t working were getting the same amount of clothes and food. He goes on.] The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labours and victuals, clothes, etc., with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. [So the older guys to be at the same level as the younger guys and getting the same community supplies, they considered that completely disrespectful.] And for men’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. [So the wives were saying, ‘We’re not working for other families, it’s slavery!’ Right, exactly! They realized socialism is slavery.] Upon the point all being to have alike, and all to do alike, they thought themselves in the like condition, and one as good as another [Meaning that the Pilgrims discovered the reality of socialism, that it brings equality in misery, unity in poverty, and that it breeds jealousy and coveting and strained social relationships. And it meant that they al had equal access to the same materials and resources, regardless of how much work they did]; and so, if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them. [It destroyed the social fabric of their community.] And would have been worse if they had been men of another condition. [He was saying, this was happening to the best of men; if this was worse men, it would have been even a more horrible scenario. And he concludes with this.] Let none object this is men’s corruption, and nothing to the course itself. [So he says this. Don‘t let anybody come up with this objection that, ‘Well, it would’ve worked, but men are evil, so, uh, that’s why it didn’t work out. It has nothing to do with the actual system or the theory or some supposed defect in the idea itself. And you hear that all the time from the Left. ‘You know, communism, socialism, it works in theory.’ No it doesn’t. It doesn’t. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because men are corruptible. All men are corruptible. So I’ll read that again, and here’s how he concludes.] Let none object this is men’s corruption, and nothing to the course itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them. [Wow, what a great ending. He says, ya’ know what? Man’s way, because man is sinful, it didn’t work. God in his wisdom has another plan. And that was private property.]

So that’s it folks, the Pilgrims, early settlers, brave Christians, repentant economists and America’s first capitalists! What a story, what a testimony of the brilliance of God’s way and the glory of the American identity forged in a little community in early 17th century Massachusetts. So thankful for God’s grace on them and God’s grace to our nation over the years. And that’s what Thanksgiving is all about anyway: giving praise, glory and thanks to God, the God of the Scriptures, for His manifold blessings poured out on us. That was the theme of the first Thanksgiving that the Pilgrims celebrated with the Indians, and may it be our theme now and always. Thanks be to God for our land and freedom and prosperity, and most of all, for His grace in Christ Jesus! May God bless you and yours this Thanksgiving, and may God be merciful to our nation.

More to come from Feet To The Fire…

But until then, let justice roll down like waters, America, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream! Closely examine your history books, because they don’t always tell the full story. And liberals certainly don’t because it usually makes them look bad. But the facts are in – socialism doesn’t work now and it didn’t work then! Let freedom ring in a capitalist economy! And when uniformed lemmings sing the praises of collectivism, set them straight with a little story from Plymouth Rock.  William Bradford himself.  He’ll hold their feet to the fire…

{increase volume, sweet bluegrass music with backbeat just because it sounds like something that the Pilgrims probably had playing in the background during their first Thanksgiving…}

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