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The Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth Harbor in December 1620 having expected to
land farther south in Virginia. They faced an unusually cold winter with
less than adequate clothing. They lived off what they brought with them,
game, eels, shellfish, and food they pilfered from the Indians' stockpiles.
Governor Carver and other leaders had decided to follow a communal form
of economy with everyone sharing equally from a communal stockpile. During
the winter many died including Governor Carver and so Bradford became the
The first planting came then in the Spring of 1621. But more ships
arrived with few supplies making the portions for each person less and less
and the FIRST THANKSGIVING harvest was a meager one. Daily rations were
only about a quarter of a pound of bread for each person. Nevertheless,
the Pilgrims did as was the custom of many agricultural people, give thanks.
It was also a custom brought with them from the Netherlands where they had
lived quite awhile before making the trip.
"In the spring of 1622, the Colonists complained they were too weak to work
raising food. Although they were, on the whole, deeply religious, some were
so hungry that they stole food from their starving fellow-workers. More
ships arrived but few with supplies, just more moths to feed. Many many died
but they gave thanks and so passed the second Thanksgiving.
Young men complained because they had to work hard to feed other men and
their wives and children. Strong men who were heads of families griped.
They said that even though they put in long hours and raised good crops,
they and their children received no more food or clothes than men who were
unable or unwilling to put in more than a few hours' work a day.
After months of bitter complaints, the Governor and chief men of the
Colony came to the conclusion that they were making a bad mistake. As Gov.
Bradford said, they had thought they were 'wiser than God.'
And so, in 1623, they turned away from government dictation and gave each
family a parcel of land for its own use. Then what a change took place!
Even the women went into the fields willingly, taking their children along
with them. All--men, women and children--planted as much corn as they felt
they could possibly work.
People who had formerly complained that they were too weak to dig or hoe,
declaring that it was tyranny to make them undertake field work, gladly
undertook to plant and cultivate for themselves.
And when the harvest was gathered, instead of famine they had plenty. And
so they all gave thanks to God. What a Thanksgiving they celebrated! No
wonder they gave up for all time their sharing of poverty....their belief
that it was good for all to suffer scarcity together. They found that it is
better for each man to work for himself to produce plenty, because that
>From The International Nickel Company, Inc. 1950
P.S. It was the Puritans that wore the black clothing with buckels on hats
and shoes and not the Pilgrims who brought some pretty clothing with them.
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