Socialism Failed for the Pilgrims, but Freedom Triumphed

As America prepares to celebrate a day of Thanksgiving, it is important to look back and consider the lessons of our forefathers. All the way back to its humble beginnings at Plymouth Rock, the American legacy has shined as an example of what freedom and liberty can accomplish.

But in recent years, socialism has been on the rise in America. According to Pew Research, 42 percent of Americans have a positive view of socialism. In addition, the nation has seen increasingly socialistic policies based on the concepts of big government and high taxation. In light of such circumstances, it is important to consider another episode when socialism was in America – and the failure of such socialism.

This story of socialism in America happened with none other than the Pilgrims themselves. When the Pilgrims set sail on the Mayflower, their voyage was financed by a group of investors called the Merchant Adventurers. As a means to pay back the investors, the Pilgrims initially set up a socialistic economy, with a portion of the communal proceeds going back to the investors. However, this system proved to be a failure from the start.

William Bradford, the second governor of Plymouth Colony, described what happened: “The failure of this experiment... [proves] the emptiness of the theory that the taking away of private property, and the possession of it in a community, by a commonwealth, would make a state happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For in this instance, community of property (so far as it went) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment which would have been to the general benefit and comfort.”

To replace this failed approach, the Pilgrims instituted a system of private ownership, with each family having a farm to call their own. This led to the bountiful successes that culminated in long-term prosperity. Such a failure of socialism, when compared to capitalism, comes as little surprise. The basic principles of individual liberty and personal responsibility will always be more successful than the principles of coercion and a lack of private property.

From Plymouth Rock, all the way to the Soviet Union, socialism has an unbroken record of failure. The successful “American experiment” rejected socialism from its very start, and an embrace of socialism would ultimately spell its end. For the legacy of the Pilgrims and the Founding Fathers to continue, the lessons of history must be heeded and followed. As families gather across the nation to thank God for the blessings of the year and look back on America’s legacy, it is important to ensure that future generations will be able to reap the blessings of freedom. As the rise of socialism seeks to undermine the country's future, a return to America’s foundation just might start by looking back to the lessons of Plymouth Rock.


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