The Great Thanksgiving Hoax

In Uncategorized on November 26, 2008 at 5:29 pm

Daily Article by Richard J. Maybury Posted on 11/20/1999

Each year at this time school children all over America are taught the official Thanksgiving story, and newspapers, radio, TV, and magazines devote vast amounts of time and space to it. It is all very colorful and fascinating.

It is also very deceiving. This official story is nothing like what really happened. It is a fairy tale, a whitewashed and sanitized collection of half-truths which divert attention away from Thanksgiving’s real meaning.

The official story has the pilgrims boarding the Mayflower, coming to America and establishing the Plymouth colony in the winter of 1620-21. This first winter is hard, and half the colonists die. But the survivors are hard working and tenacious, and they learn new farming techniques from the Indians. The harvest of 1621 is bountiful. The Pilgrims hold a celebration, and give thanks to God. They are grateful for the wonderful new abundant land He has given them.

The official story then has the Pilgrims living more or less happily ever after, each year repeating the first Thanksgiving. Other early colonies also have hard times at first, but they soon prosper and adopt the annual tradition of giving thanks for this prosperous new land called America.

The problem with this official story is that the harvest of 1621 was not bountiful, nor were the colonists hardworking or tenacious. 1621 was a famine year and many of the colonists were lazy thieves.

In his ‘History of Plymouth Plantation,’ the governor of the colony, William Bradford, reported that the colonists went hungry for years, because they refused to work in the fields. They preferred instead to steal food. He says the colony was riddled with “corruption,” and with “confusion and discontent.” The crops were small because “much was stolen both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable.”

In the harvest feasts of 1621 and 1622, “all had their hungry bellies filled,” but only briefly. The prevailing condition during those years was not the abundance the official story claims, it was famine and death. The first “Thanksgiving” was not so much a celebration as it was the last meal of condemned men.

But in subsequent years something changes. The harvest of 1623 was different. Suddenly, “instead of famine now God gave them plenty,” Bradford wrote, “and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.” Thereafter, he wrote, “any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.” In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.

What happened?

After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, “they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop.” They began to question their form of economic organization.

This had required that “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means” were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.” A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out only what he needed.

This “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that “young men that are most able and fit for labor and service” complained about being forced to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children.” Also, “the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak.” So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.

To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.

Many early groups of colonists set up socialist states, all with the same terrible results. At Jamestown, established in 1607, out of every shipload of settlers that arrived, less than half would survive their first twelve months in America. Most of the work was being done by only one-fifth of the men, the other four-fifths choosing to be parasites. In the winter of 1609-10, called “The Starving Time,” the population fell from five-hundred to sixty.

Then the Jamestown colony was converted to a free market, and the results were every bit as dramatic as those at Plymouth. In 1614, Colony Secretary Ralph Hamor wrote that after the switch there was “plenty of food, which every man by his own industry may easily and doth procure.” He said that when the socialist system had prevailed, “we reaped not so much corn from the labors of thirty men as three men have done for themselves now.”

Before these free markets were established, the colonists had nothing for which to be thankful. They were in the same situation as Ethiopians are today, and for the same reasons. But after free markets were established, the resulting abundance was so dramatic that the annual Thanksgiving celebrations became common throughout the colonies, and in 1863, Thanksgiving became a national holiday.

Thus the real reason for Thanksgiving, deleted from the official story, is: Socialism does not work; the one and only source of abundance is free markets, and we thank God we live in a country where we can have them.

* * * * *
Mr. Maybury writes on investments.

This article originally appeared in The Free Market, November 1985.


  1. From my first federal Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789:

    Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.… Now, therefore, I do appoint Thursday, the 26th day of November 1789 … that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection.

  2. Gee, is it any wonder this is not taught in school.

    Look who controls our curriculum – socialist run and then write our text books.

    Why would they undermine their goal of utopia by giving such a glaring example of their ideology’s failure.

    We are slowly creeping towards the day when no one will produce again as the government taxes those who do and gives to those who do not.

    As it stands now, we are rapidly approaching the state of affairs where, 50% of the US population receives some sort of government aid.

    This is not healthy for our democracy.

  3. The first Thanksgiving: Separating facts from fiction
    by Austin Nichols

    Unfortunately, both of these blissful stories are highly fictitious; they are basically fairy tales.

    “Like any American holiday, Thanksgiving is replete with stereotypes,” said Binghamton University Anthropologist Randall McGuire. “On one level, Thanksgiving is a harvest festival.”

    It is a fact that a feast was held in 1621; yet it is less known that this was not a beginning of a tradition of any sorts. Those who were in attendance participated in order to “give thanks” to god for their bountiful harvest, the ones they lost, and their ability to survive. It was also a gathering to honor Squanto and other native allies, such as the Wampanoag tribe. This day of Thanksgiving was a day filled with fasting and praying, and was held because the Puritans believed that an extra day of thanks was necessary. Regardless, the feast is known as a model of the first Thanksgiving, which eventually became one of the most popular and well-received American holidays.

    Yet the official story of Thanksgiving has its holes.

    Richard J. Marbury, a successful historian and writer from the Ludwig von Mises Institute claims “this official story is nothing less then a fairy tale, whitewashed and sanitized of half-truths which divert attention away from the real meaning of Thanksgiving.”

    Marbury goes on to say that the winter of 1621 was not a successful harvest and that the colonists were not hardworking or tenacious. According to Marbury,”1621 was a famine year, and many of the colonists were lazy thieves.”

    He goes on to say that the colonists were gravediggers and land thieves. The governor himself, William Bradford, had recorded in his journals that he had assigned every family a portion of land, and encouraged those to dig up the graves of the natives in order to discover the secret to a good harvest, with hopes of finding ancient jewelry that may sell for food.

    After examining this topic for many years, Marbury believes that the pilgrims struggled with bad harvest and malnutrition until about 1624; after that time, they forced the natives to help with their harvest.

    National Geographic reveals that until 1629, only 300 Puritans lived in and around present day New England. Puritans across the Atlantic had heard of the peaceful and prosperous life that was enjoyed by those in “The New World.” More and more people began to arrive by the boatload, and the population grew at an extraordinary rate. Before long, land ownership became a hot topic.

    According to http://www.geoffmetcalf.com the newly arrived Europeans believed that personal land ownership was important. They had no concept for tribal living or group sharing. Since fences or other boundaries did not mark the land, the newcomers felt that it was literally up for grabs. Many of the original Puritans began protesting their inconsiderate decisions, especially since they had formed a good relationship with their friendly neighbors. Sadly, those who spoke out were excommunicated from the church and forced to leave the area.

    Bible in hand, the large amounts of Puritans began marching further inland, killing these “heathen savages” and stealing valuable possessions, especially cherished land. After reaching the Connecticut Valley around 1633, the Puritans were engaged by warriors of the Pequot Nation. Eventually, this dispute would turn in to what was called The Pequot War.

    The powerful army of the Pequot was far superior compared to the Puritans, who had never been involved with direct warfare. Commander John Mason decided that conflict in an open field would cause the destruction of his inexperienced army, and a different approach was necessary.

    Russell Means, a Native American activist, spoke out against the unfair treatment of Native American’s all throughout the nation. He argued the fact that in the hours before dawn, the Puritan army attacked the villages of the Pequot. Ruthlessly, they burned many Pequot settlements throughout the land, murdering men, woman, and children. The Dutch and Puritans united as one to exterminate all Native Americans around New England. Village after village fell, many with little or no resistance.

    Julia White, professor and historian, posted an essay on ishgooda.org, which provides more disturbing historical fact on the actions of the Puritans. After another successful day of village burning, the churches of Manhattan announced a day of “thanksgiving” for their successful attacks against the “heathen savages”, according to the beliefs of the Puritans. This large gathering was held in 1641 and is tagged as the second Thanksgiving. It is said that the amputated heads of the Indians were kicked through the streets like soccer balls. Sadly, the friendly Wampanoag sustained a brutal ending. The head of the chief was placed on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where it remained for twenty-four years.

    These historical events are recorded and available to all, yet every educational system tends to tell a happy and joyful story. If this seems a bit over-exaggerated, then the reader should be encouraged to dig out the facts as they are provided. In many cases, it is rather easy to find information throughout the Internet and in every library.

    Maybe it is not so surprising that some Native Americans today refuse to participate in Thanksgiving celebrations. In the opinion of Richard Marbury, the original story is “as real as Santa Claus”.

    Regardless of the bloody history and stereotypical prototypes, Thanksgiving is still one of the most highly regarded holidays in the United States. The origins may resemble a merry act of colonial genocide, but the purpose is far more civilized in today’s society. For many, it is a day to gather with loved ones, and give thanks for their presence.

  4. Santa Claus is not real?

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