Our unique American holiday celebrating a material abundance and the freedom to worship had an ironic beginning.  One American colony incorporated socialism among the early Pilgrims and later suffered religious persecution.

In 1621, the Pilgrims of Plymouth, MA suffered a disastrous economic founding.  In what seemed like a spirit of cooperation, the farmers pooled their efforts, including the harvest, into a common collection. Even with help from the local Indians, economic production fell far short of basic needs. Food and shelter were so deficient that about half the population soon died.

Over the next few years, new economic rules that reinforced private property were instituted. Farmers kept ALL the fruits of their labor and traded what they did not need.  Agricultural yields soared as farmers and early traders maximized production using the best combinations of tools, labor, and the climate for growing particular crops.

Later, colonists not complying with a particular religious tradition were often cast as second class citizens.  The Salem, MA witch trials of 1692 were the epitome of state sponsored religious terrorism.  For a while, it even looked like some American colonies might be subject to the religious wars that had plagued most of the world, and especially Europe.

Finally, the US Constitution limited a Federal form of government and protected private property, while separating church and state.  That combination harnessed individual initiative and dramatically created new wealth.  Today, Americans can celebrate economic opportunity and give Thanks as they choose, thus preserving an American legacy called “Thanksgiving”.