The Pilgrims and Property Rights

The Pilgrims founded their colony at Plymouth Plantation in December 1620 and promptly started dying off in droves.

As the colony's early governor, William Bradford, wrote in "Of Plymouth Plantation":

"That which was most sadd & lamentable was, that in 2. or 3. moneths time halfe of their company dyed."

When the settlers finally stopped croaking, they set about creating a heaven on earth, a society without private property, where all worked for the common good. Everything was shared. Especially bitching and moaning about working for the common good. Bradford again:

"Yong-men that were most able and fitte for labour and service did repine that they should spend their time and streingth to worke for other mens wives and children, with out any recompense....And for men's wives to be commanded to doe service for other men, as dresing their meate, washing their cloaths, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brooke it."

With nobody working, everybody was suffering. And in case you think nobody was working simply because they couldn't understand a damn thing Bradford was saying, chew on this: In 1623, Bradford and the other leaders

Assigned to every family a parceel of land...this had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more torne was planted then other waise would have bene by any means the Govr or any other could use, and saved him a great deall of trouble, and gave farr better contente.

In no time at all

any generall wante of famine hath not been amongest them since to this day.

America would never go hungry again. So this week, before you drift into your annual tryptophan-induced coma, don't forget to give thanks to the true patron of this holiday feast: property rights.

For more on this, go here. For a contrary take on whether the Pilgrims were proto-socialists, go here.

Approximately 2.30 minutes.

Produced by Meredith Bragg and Nick Gillespie. Voices by Meredith Bragg and Austin Bragg.

Scroll down for downloadable versions. Subscribe to Reason.tv's YouTube channel to receive automatic notification when new material goes live.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

Click here to follow Reason on Instagram

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE