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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/11084/the-first-thanksgiving-and-the-birth-of-free-enterprise-in-america/

The First Thanksgiving and the Birth of Free Enterprise in America

November 23, 2009 by

At a time when belief in collectivism and paternalistic government is threatening to diminish even more of our shrinking freedom, we need to recall that this has all been tried before. And how it is the free individual, secure in his right to life, liberty, and honestly acquired property that is the basis of any and all the prosperity that we have in America and around the world.

At good place to start is with our Thanksgiving holiday this year. In a piece that I’ve written on “The Real Meaning of Thanksgiving: The Birth of Private Enterprise in America,” I remind our fellow Americans about the origin of this event.

The Pilgrim Fathers came to colonial America to escape religious persecution in Great Britain, but also to establish a new type of society in the wilderness. They were determined to follow Plato’s model in “The Republic,” and create a communist utopia.

It lead to economic disaster, which was only overcome through the Plymouth Colony elders admitting their error, and instead “privatizing” the colony’s property. By doing so they set loose individual initiative and market-based incentives. The result: a bounty in the wilderness rather than starvation.

It was this bounty for which they gave thanks. It was the birth of private enterprise in the New World.

America seems to be going further and further backwards to the older system of governmnent control and planning, which so many came to America to escape from in the 18th and 19th centuries.

We should not forget America’s history and legacy of freedom and free enterprise — beginning with the Pilgrim’s experience — when we sit down to enjoy our turkey dinner this Thursday. Otherwise, we may soon having nothing left to be thankful for!!

Richard Ebeling


Brian Erickson November 23, 2009 at 1:12 pm

In this season of Thanks Giving, thanks to Richard Ebeling for telling this story and in so doing reminding us that one of the most important events in our history revealed the truth about human nature. That under state capitalism (socialism/communism) people produce economic failure, starvation, confusion and discontent. But under free market capitalism people produce economic success, abundance and a “rejoicing of the hearts of many..” A rejoicing that led to our wonderful holiday called Thanksgiving.

fundamentalist November 23, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Great post over at the Adam Smith blog: “From the Annals of Entirely Counter-productive Government Interventions “In reality, the evidence is overwhelming that the February stimulus bill has added at least two percentage points to the unemployment rate. If Congress and the White House hadn’t tried so hard to stimulate long-term unemployment, the US unemployment rate would now be about 8 percent and falling rather than more than 10 percent and — rising.” http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/

Curt Howland November 23, 2009 at 3:58 pm

I have a very personal interest in the experience of those who emigrated to Massachusetts, being that John Howland had the distinction of falling out of the Mayflower at one point.

Also, the only pilgrim house still standing is the Howland house. I have a photo of my father standing next to the sign, and another of me.

After I get to New Hampshire for the Free State Project, I’ll get pictures of my kids there too.

I lived in Mass for a few years, and would never make that mistake again. What a bureaucratic nightmare of a state.

How far the mighty have fallen.

K Ackermann November 23, 2009 at 7:04 pm

I still remember, as a kid, taking a school field trip to Plymouth (from Melrose, MA).

I remember the bus driver cracking himself up when we passed a Mayflower moving van. He said, “Too late. We missed it.”

Sorry. I felt a need to share that.

P.M.Lawrence November 24, 2009 at 3:13 am

“The Pilgrim Fathers came to colonial America to escape religious persecution in Great Britain…”.

No. They wanted to set up for themselves, not just emigrate – most of them had already done that previously, going to Holland, and the rest could have done the same just as easily as them and more easily than going to North America.

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