In it, but not of it. TPM DC
John Stossel, noted sayer of "give me a break" and Fox News host, went on the air Wednesday afternoon to lay out the conservative story of the first Thanksgiving.
In an accompanying post on the Fox News website, Stossel explains that "had today's political class been in power" on that first Thanksgiving Day, today would be "called 'Starvation Day' instead of Thanksgiving."
Here's how Stossel and the tea partiers break it down:
The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share the work and produce equally.
That's why they nearly all starved.
According to the narrative, it wasn't until a more capitalist structure was imposed that things really started to work. From Borowski's FreedomWorks post:
In 1661 and 1662, the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians did share two meals together. But it wasn't until the "miracle of 1663" that they celebrated a bountiful feast like we do today. As Governor William Bradford wrote that year, "instead of famine now God gave them plenty." This was the year that Bradford switched to a more capitalist system.
In short, Borowski writes, "private property saved the Pilgrims."
Sounds great. Pass the cranberry sauce and the supply-and-demand dogma and let's do this thing.
Trouble is, the Times reports, the conservative Thanksgiving tale is not exactly true. At all. From the paper:
Historians say that the settlers in Plymouth, and their supporters in England, did indeed agree to hold their property in common -- William Bradford, the governor, referred to it in his writings as the "common course." But the plan was in the interest of realizing a profit sooner, and was only intended for the short term; historians say the Pilgrims were more like shareholders in an early corporation than subjects of socialism.
Whatever the political leanings of the Pilgrims in that system, a historian tells the Times, "the arrangement did not produce famine."
Oh and one more thing: "Bradford did get rid of the common course -- but it was in 1623, after the first Thanksgiving, and not because the system wasn't working," the paper reports. "The Pilgrims just didn't like it."
Watch Stossel tell the conservative story of the first Thanksgiving below: