RR editor: Here is a compilation of three short Thanksgiving articles Bill Wilson wrote this past week:
The Failed 1620 Socialist Experiment (from Nov.25)
My grandfather 13 generations back was William Bradford, co-writer of the Mayflower Compact and eventual leader of the Pilgrims who came to America on the Mayflower in 1620. There were some 102 passengers and about 30 crewmen on that ship that braved horrible weather, disease, and other hardships to come to this new place that later would become the greatest Christian nation in the world.
Bradford wrote, “So they committed themselves to the will of God, and resolved to proceed. In several of these storms the wind was so strong and the seas so high that they could not carry a knot of sail, but were forced to hull for many days.”
The trip in and of itself to find a place to worship without persecution was most difficult.
Once landed, it was no picnic either. Bradford says, “But soon a most lamentable blow fell upon them. In two- or three-months’ time, half of their company died…scarcely 50 remained, and sometimes two or three persons died in a day. In the time of worst distress, there were but six or seven sound persons, who, to their great commendation be it spoken, spared no pains night or day, but with great toil and at the risk of their own health, fetched wood, made fires, prepared food for the sick, made their beds, washed their infected clothes, dressed and undressed them; in a word did all the homely and necessary services for them which dainty and queasy stomachs cannot endure to hear mentioned.”
“…And what I have said of these few, I should say of many others who died in this general visitation, and others yet living, that while they had health or strength, they forsook none that had need of them. I doubt not that their recompense is with the Lord.”
Their Virginia Company Charter, however, called for common ownership of land, property, food, drink, clothing, and provisions. Bradford saw that this socialist experiment was detrimental to the colony because it inspired laziness and a lack of productivity. Bradford then did away with this structure, giving ownership of land to each person and two days a week for “their own private employment.” This was the first capitalist system, and the colony then prospered.
The headlines 399 years later say over 36 million Americans (the combined population of NY, CT, MA, NH, ME, RH, DE and VT) likely will eat their Thanksgiving dinner purchased by food stamps. Liberals say without the government, these people would starve. In reality, without the government, the citizens across the land would be blessed as the Pilgrims were by reaching out and helping their neighbor from the goodness of their hearts.
As written in 2 Corinthians 9:11-12, “Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causes through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplies the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God.”
Bradford knew in 1620 that government won’t save you. Only the Lord will save you. He chooses to do it through his people.
The Revisionist Thanksgiving (from Nov.26)
Across the United States, Americans celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving, except that many do not know exactly why we celebrate this wonderful day, and many others believe it is a day of sorrow. Anything in American culture that would portray people in a reverent and humble position toward God Almighty is subject to criticism, and Thanksgiving is not exempt.
Every year, the godless seek to chip away at the history of this blessed holiday that reminds us as a nation of our roots in thanking God for His many benefits. Time Magazine last year wrote an article written by Sean Sherman, a Native American, who says “The Thanksgiving tale we tell is a harmful lie.” He goes on to tell his own tale about the event.
Sherman wrote for Time:
- “The first official mention of a “Thanksgiving” celebration occurs in 1627, after the colonists brutally massacre an entire Pequot village, then subsequently celebrate their barbaric victory. Years later, President Washington first tried to start a holiday of Thanksgiving in 1789, but this has nothing to do with “Indians and settlers; instead it’s intended to be a public day of “thanksgiving and prayer.””
He cites a revisionist version of American history rife with accusations of “nationalism,” land-grabbing, and “Protestant Americans” massacring indigenous people.
William Bradford’s first-hand account of the first “Thanksgiving” found in “Of Plymouth Plantation” doesn’t remotely corroborate Sherman’s version of history. But Time published it anyway.
Another example was in 2007 when the Seattle Public School system instructed its staff to “deconstruct” Thanksgiving using a bitter account by a native American advocacy group. “Deconstructing the Myths of the First Thanksgiving” offered 11 “myths” for teachers to share. These “myths” hardly documented anything from the true historic account written by Bradford.
- Myth number 11 recounted as fact: “For many Indian people, “Thanksgiving” is a time of mourning, of remembering how a gift of generosity was rewarded by theft of land and seed corn, extermination of many from disease and gun, and near total destruction of many more from forced assimilation. As currently celebrated in this country, “Thanksgiving” is a bitter reminder of 500 years of betrayal returned for friendship.”
In “Of Plymouth Plantation,” Bradford writes of how the Indians stole tools from the settlers, and after an English-speaking Indian named Samoset came to their camp, they became friends; the tools were returned and “With him, after friendly entertainment and some gifts, they made a peace which has now continued for twenty-four years.”
The peace agreement set forth how the Pilgrims and the Indians would help and protect each other by living in peace. The bitter politically-correct crowd has it wrong with lies and revisions.
The first Thanksgiving, as it was then and is today, is a 1 Chronicles 16:34 day, “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endures for ever.”
And don’t let the lies of deceivers spoil it.
Of Truth and Thanksgiving (from Nov.27)
I would like to share some insights of and from Bradford’s writings in “Of Plymouth Plantation.”
In the days leading up to the first “Thanksgiving” of the Pilgrims, they had dispatched a group of ten men to “explore the bay and trade with the natives.” They were guided by the English-speaking Squanto, who also served as an interpreter. When the men returned, they were very impressed with the land around the bay and wished they could have settled there instead of Cape Cod. William Bradford, wrote however, “But it seems that the Lord, Who assigns to all men the bounds of their habitations, had appointed it for another use. And thus they found the Lord to be with them in all their ways, and to bless their outgoings and incomings, for which let His holy name have the praise forever, to all posterity.”
This “Thanksgiving” to the Lord offered by Bradford in his history “Of Plymouth Plantation” indicates that Jesus was at the center of his thoughts about all things–even the land they were allocated by God to begin their colony. It also forebears testimony to the very positive Christian witness and relations the Pilgrims maintained with the Indians. This comment was followed immediately by Bradford’s account of the harvest in October 1621. Bradford writes, “Each person had about a peck of meal a week, or now since harvest, Indian corn in that proportion; and afterwards many wrote at length about their plenty to their friends in England–not feigned but true reports.”
One of those true reports is found in “Mourt’s Relation” by Pilgrim Edward Winslow–the only account of the first “Thanksgiving.” Winslow writes: “our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors…at which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others.”
Winslow concluded, “And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”
Thanks to the godly men and women who came before us, even in our decline we remain blessed more than any other nation on earth.
Jeremiah 4:2 says that if God’s people return to Him, “And thou shalt swear, The Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in Him, and in Him shall they glory.”
This is a promise to the nations. So today, as should be our practice each day, may you have a Psalm 103:2 day, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”