Happy Thanksgiving 2009!
When we were children, we learned about the first Thanksgiving, about how the pilgrims celebrated their first good harvest in 1623, just three years after landing, and how they invited the friendly Indians to join them.
Now that we are grown, we should reflect again on this heritage and being older and wiser, we should consider well, the rest of the story.
Our forefathers did not merely leave religious oppression, they left a civilization, a good civilization, but one that was less perfect than what they hoped to found.
These were not the huddled masses longing to be free – those poor souls would be welcomed later. No, the pilgrims were professionals, educated people of England’s emerging middle class.
While the Virginia colonies were suffering, unable to recruit new colonists, and lacking in people capable of survival in the wilderness, the pilgrims planned ahead. They acquired investors, so they could properly equip and provision themselves to survive. They tried farming in common, as the investors wished, but abandoned socialism when it did not work. Americans have never embraced socialism since.
But they did not come for economic advancement – they were leaving European comforts and financial success. There was little chance they would soon become comfortable, much less wealthy in the wilderness toward which they sailed. No, not money, but the chance to rule themselves was what drew them from kith and kin. Unlike the middle class of today, they were cheerfully political. Why? Because it is God’s will that we govern ourselves. The British government was glad to see them go.
Their first act, one of the first political acts in the New World, was committed even before they landed in the North America. The Mayflower Compact, signed by 41 men aboard the Mayflower in what is now called Provincetown Harbor near Cape Cod said in part:
….Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws…
And so they did. We should be thankful for this example and for the direction it has given to our country.
Wishing you a very Happy (and reflective) Thanksgiving.
Christina, Robert and Marjorie Jeffrey