Myths About Thanksgiving

by Hans Bader on November 26, 2012 · 1 comment

in Agriculture, Culture, Property Rights, Zeitgeist

The first Thanksgiving didn’t usher in a time of plenty for the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims continued to confront the specter of starvation until they ditched their collective farming practices in favor of individual property rights, which finally brought them prosperity by increasing incentives to produce and manage farms wisely. Property rights were also a feature of many Native American cultures, contrary to later claims that Native Americans had no concept of property rights (claims first invented by those who dispossessed them, and later repeated by radical environmentalists who sought to depict property rights as an institution peculiar to white settlers). I debunk some of these myths at this link.

Hans Bader November 26, 2012 at 12:11 pm

In Reason Magazine, Nick Gillespie and Meredith Bragg also discussed how the establishment of property rights among the Pilgrims made them more “industrious” and banished the specter of “famine” that had killed many Pilgrims. The communal economic system initially set up by the Pilgrims before it was abandoned as unworkable led to “chronic food shortages” even after the first Thanksgiving that led them to nearly “starve to death.” “Little food was produced” until the Pilgrims changed their economic system to assign each family “a private parcel of land,” which led to vastly increased production of food:

Gillespie and Bragg argue that on Thanksgiving we should “give thanks to the true patron of this holiday feast: property rights.”

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