Steve Coerper (29 Nov 2020)
"Marxism Nearly Killed the Pilgrims"

According to William Bradford, the Governor of Plymouth for its first thirty years and author “Of Plymouth Plantation,” prior to sailing for the New World, the Pilgrims and the entrepreneurs signed a seven year contract stipulating that, “all profits and benefits that are got by trade, traffic, trucking, working, fishing, or any other means of any person or persons” shall be pooled for the common benefit.  That’s right, the Pilgrims started off trying to establish a socialist society where “at the end of the seven years, the capital and profits, the houses, lands, goods and chattels, be equally divided betwixt the ‘Adventurers’ and Planters..”

Food, drink, apparel and other provisions were provided out of the common stock and goods of the colony, meaning quite simply that those who worked hard got the same provisions as those who loafed.

The first two-years were a disaster with shortages and starvation as they youngest and strongest men complained that they had to work for other men’s wives and family without pay. Needless to say, the lack of incentive to thrive caused additional privation, so while the first Thanksgiving in America likely was held on a day in late November in 1621 to celebrate the blessings that God had provided. Bradford makes it clear that there was not abundance, but instead there was a food shortage.

After two-years, the Pilgrims decided that a change was needed, so they decided to end the common goods experiment by giving every family a plot of land based upon their size, establishing private property rights in the colony.  Governor Bradford proclaimed the change to have created, “…very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been…”

“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.’

The Pilgrims no longer resented going into the field because they got to keep the benefits of their labor. Bradford reports, “Instead of famine now God gave them plenty,” and that, “… the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God…. Any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.”

Yes, the early days of the Plymouth colony proved that even amongst a very small, interdependent group, the socialist model is a failure.  Not just an academic exercise that went awry, but instead a mistake that cost many of the original settlers their lives.