Flint School e-Museum
Since 1966, the Flint School has added another dimension to the traditional celebrations of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Ask anyone what Thanksgiving is all about. You will probably be answered with one or two sentences about Pilgrims, harvests, feasting, and turkeys. Little more is still generally known. There are more lessons to be gleamed from the holiday season than are generally reaped. So, let's go beyond the usual input, and learn anew the lessons our forefathers would have us know.
THANKSGIVING CELEBRATED AS BIRTHDAY OF FREE ENTERPRISE
The celebration of Thanksgiving is a celebration of plenty and appreciation of the abundance that has characterized the free enterprise, individualistic, capitalistic systems of the U.S.A. The freedom of the individual is why America grew into the moat productive, highest standard of living area in all the world.
(Quote -- Encyclopaedia Britannica) "Although days of thanks for special occasions were celebrated in the first years of Virginia's settlement and harvest celebrations are as old as civilization itself, it is generally acknowledged that the first Thanksgiving Day celebration in America occurred when the Pilgrims, by order of 0ev. William Bradford, held a three-day festival to commemorate their harvest in the autumn of 1621."
The Pilgrims had arrived in what is now Provincetown, Mass. on November 11, 1620, but it was late in December before they finally settled in Plymouth. In the words of Gov. Bradford,
"...that which was most sadd and lamentable was, that in 2 or 3 moneths time halfe of their company dyed, espetialy in Jan: and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvie and other diseases, which this long voige and their inacomodate condition had brought upon them; so as ther dyed some times 2 or 3 of a day, in the aforesaid time; that of 100 and odd persons, scarce 50 remained."
They spent their first winter building houses so that they could move off the MAYFLOWER and by March all settlers had left the ship.
Scurvy and fever had taken their toll, however, as by then 15 of 18 wives had died as well as 19 of 29 hired men and servants and half of the 30 sailors. When the MAYFLOWER departed she left 23 children and 27 adults behind, but not one Pilgrim returned to England.
The Pilgrims had placed all their food and provisions in what they called the "comone store" which was Set up on the socialist principle of "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."
As Spring came they began to farm and by October took in their first harvest which also went to the common store. It was a time to be thankful for their very survival of the ordeal. They had spent 67 days in the Atlantic with 132 people aboard a ship 28 ft. shorter than TE VEGA, with a mast less than half as high and survived to establish themselves and reap a harvest.
The first Thanksgiving was well deserved and Edward Winslow, in a letter of December 11, 1621, described the celebration.
"Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a more special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labours. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king, Massasoit with some 90 men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted. And they went out and killed five deer which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our Governor and upon the captain and others."
In November the ship FORTUNE arrived with more than 30 new settlers, mostly young men. They apparently brought "not so much as a bisket-cake" with them, thus providing another drain on the common store for the winter. The future looked bleak as the Pilgrims settled in for another winter of sharing from the common store. As food supplies ran out the "planned socialist" community began to starve again, yet even in the next year worked under the principle of "From each according to his ability -- To each according to his need." The harvest was poor in spite of the added manpower and the colonists starved in the ensuing winter dramatically demonstrating once again that collective ownership in a socialist economy was unworkable and could not keep them alive.
Richard Grant in THE INCREDIBLE BREAD MACHINE writes, "The experience of the first Plymouth colony provides eloquent testimony to the unworkability of collective ownership of property. In his history of the Plymouth colony Governor Bradford described how the Pilgrims farmed the land in common, with the produce going into a common storehouse. For two years the Pilgrims faithfully practiced communal ownership of the means of production. And for two years nearly starved to death, rationed at times to 'but a quarter of a pound of bread a day to each person.' Governor Bradford wrote that 'famine must still ensue the next year also if not some way prevented.' He described how the colonists finally decided to introduce the institution of private property:
'[the colonists) begane to thinke how they might raise as much come as they could, and obtaine a beter crope than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in miserie. At length [in 1623) after much debate of things, the Gov. (with the advise of the thee fest amongest them) gave way that they should set downe every man for his owne perticuler, and in that regard trust to them selves... And so assigned to every family a parceel of land. This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more come was planted than other waise would have bene by any means the Gov. or any ether could use, and saved him a great deall of trouble, and gave farr better con tente. The women now wente willingly into the feild, and tooke their litle-ons with them to set come, which before would aledge weakness, and inabilitie; whom to have compelled would have bene thought great tiranie and opression."
"Reflecting on the experience of the previous two years, Bradford goes on to describe the folly of communal ownership:"
"The experience that was had in this commone course and condition, tired sundrie years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanitie of that conceite of Platos and other ancients, applauded by some of later times; --that the taking away ot propertie, and bringing in communitie into a comone wealth would make them happy and florishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this comunitie (so farr as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontenth, and retard much imployment that would have been to their benefite and comforte. For the yong-men that were most able and fitte for labour and service did repine that they should spend their time and streingth to worke for other mens wives and children, with out any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in divission of victails and cloaths, than he that was weake and not able to doe a quarter the other could; this was thought injuestice "
"The Colonists learned shout 'the wave of the future' the hard way. However, once having discovered the principle of private property, the results were dramatic. Bradford continues:"
"By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plentie, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoysing of the harts of many, for which they blessed God. And in the effect of their perticular [private) planting was well seene, for all had, one way and other, pretty well to bring the year aboute, and some of the abler sorte and more industrious had to spare, and sell to others, 50 as any generall wante of famine hath not been amongest them since to this day."
The Jamestown colony in Virginia had similar experiences as they started under the same rules:
1. They were to own nothing.
When our people were fed out of the common store, and laboured jointly together, glad was he could slip from his labour, or slumber over his taske he cared not how, nay, the most honest among them would hardly take so much true paines in a weeke, as now for themselves they will doe in a day; neither cared they for the increase, presuming that howsoever the harvest prospered, the generall store must maintain them, so that wee reaped not so much Come from the labours of thirtie, as now three or foure doe provide for themselves. (from reprint in CLICHES OF SOCIALISM by theFoundation For Economic Education,)
The Thanksgiving we celebrate is for the success of the Pilgrims after establishing property rights and free enterprise as that event laid the foundation for the growth of America and all she stands for.
Were our Pilgrim and Jamestown colony forefathers to wake up from the dead and look at the graduated taxation (from each according to his ability) and welfare programs (to each according to his need) we have today they might offer us a lesson in history by simply quoting Goethe, 'Those who do not learn from the lessons of history are doomed to relive them."
There are currently in the U.S. more people Doing supported by U.S. government programs than there are workers in the private sector to support them (Ford Motor Company research as published in June 1975 Newsweek Magazine).
And ... how can today's youth learn this lesson when it has been omitted from the best of the American History textbooks? In the best history textbook we have ever found there is no longer oven any mention of the effects of the common store and the continued starvation until the system of free enterprise and private property was established. In its interpretation of history, ever since the Thanksgiving of 1621, we are led to believe that the Pilgrims prospered and continued to grow and expand their colony.
The next sentence after the 1621 Thanks-giving explanation simply says, "As the years passed, Plymouth grew a little in size, while other small villages sprang up nearby."
Don't you wonder why this lesson is no longer pointed out in the textbooks of American 1115-tory? Why the idea of the Great American Experiment is a forgotten concept? - and why the writings of do Toqueville are a "forgotten analysis" in today's education? As Americana move into the "planned socialist economy", those who have moved our country in that direction have made sure that the early lessons of the police state force needed to maintain such a social plan (Captain John Smith's guns) and of the starvation and death that resulted from the lack of motivation inspired by the "common storehouse" have been eliminated from our children's instruction.
This lesson is our traditional Thanksgiving Day message for Flint School students. Keeping in mind Dagny's observation that celebrations are for those who have something to celebrate, we have developed over the years a special order of events to make not just the fact but the central significance of Thanksgiving Day truly memorable
George begins by re-reading for both crews the message above. Then, to make it more personally meaningful, we spend the (lay working. The tasks assigned are especially selected so that each student can see his highly visible accomplishment and take pride in a big job, a hard job, satisfyingly and well completed before sitting down to enjoy a well-earned feast in the late afternoon. At lunch time, students are served three kernels of unbuttered popcorn, to eat thoughtfully before turning again to their tasks, symbolizing the starving time while the Pilgrims tried in vain to take the common storehouse idea work. When men aren't free to reap the benefits of their own labor, they don't use their time and energy effectively, and a morning's hard work may yield little more than those kernels. So when we clean up in the afternoon, take a few moments to admire our completed work, and sit down to dinner, we know we are celebrating the birthday of Free Enterprise, and the pride of productivity which comes with it. HAPPY THANKSGIVING from the Flint School, where your students learn to appreciate the meaning of our dining tables loaded with turkey, pies, and all the trimmings!
ADDITIDNAL LITTLE KNOWN CHRISTMAS LESSDNS
It's nice, and very appropriate, that the Christmas season follows closely upon the heels of tile Thanksgiving celebration. For if Thanksgiving is the festival of the pride and productivity of free enterprise, Christmas is the festival of benevolence, of good will among men. And you can't have the second without the first.
Christmas is a time when, by songs and cheery greetings, by special observances, and by the traditions of the tree and tile lights and the holly, and especially by tile custom of exchanging gifts, we deliberately focus on the fact that we feel nice about each other. That's worth celebrating.'
During our Christmas Eve candle-light dinner one year, one student remarked that since light came into the world on Christmas, it was appropriate that we eat in the darkness now. It was an accidental symbolic touch. In addition to the well-known Christmas Story, there are several additional ways in which the 25th is special, ways which are usually forgotten in the traditional Christmas celebration.
Benevolence, peace, and good-will among men did not originate with Christmas, but with freedom, specifically with the self-knowledge within each self-responsible soul that he is free, he conducts his own life, earns his own way, and hence is free to recognize and value the pro-life virtues of others. In fact, one of the sign-posts studied in history class by which the rise and fail of civilizations can be charted is the increase or decrease within that civilization of a genuine spirit of benevolent regard of man for fellow man. This was true before Christ, just us it has been in all ages since.
Another symbolic meaning of Christmas Light is hope. Again, hope at its best is only possible within the context of the freedom and self-value which make real benevolence commonplace.
Most mornings, along with the morning news report, we review "This Day in history," the notable events and births of that day. Those persons born on Christmas, however, and events which happened on Christmas, are often overshadowed by the larger significance of the major holiday. For example, would we remember to celebrate (George Washington's birthday if he bad been born on this day? It's worth contemplating. We all know the story of the birth of Christ aid the important lessons of Christianity. It's interesting therefore to pause and consider some of the forgotten births of Christmas day, and their significant contributions to our world.
"On this day in history," in 1821, Clara Barton was born. In addition to the very real and immediate new hope she brought to thousands of wounded soldiers on the battlefields and in the field hospitals of the War Between the States and the Franco-Prussian War, she founded the American Red Cross, freedom's alternative to impersonal, inefficient, and corruption-ridden government welfare programs maintained by the force of a gun via taxes. (Over notice how when you try to force people's benevolence the whole spirit sours and becomes reluctant and resentful? Hence when individual freedom of choice is denied, benevolent spirit disappears and what you have left is "charity by force," an imposed "duty" of altruism.)
And again, "this day in history," in 1776, George Washington led his small volunteer army across the Delaware to decisively defeat the conscripted British and Hessian troops quartered in Trenton, N.J. By this bold and unexpected move, he snatched victory from defeat and despair, he gave new birth of hope to patriotic hearts throughout the colonies. The whole birth and growth of our country, and most particularly our war of independence, is a story of men who knew in their own minds that they were free, taking actions on their own initiative to secure the conditions in which they could hope for a better future for themselves and their children, and by pursuing that hope, realizing its fulfillment.
Another symbolic meaning of the Christmas Light is understanding, so let's remember another man born on Christmas Day, who contributed far more
than we can readily imagine to our understanding of the world we live in, and to our ability to use natural laws to shape our environment to our ends. On this December 25th, in 1642, Isaac Newton was born! He was certainly one of the greatest minds in the history of human thought, having made such fundamental contributions to mathematics, physics, and astronomy that all humans owe perpetual homage to his genius. In 4th R class your students learn that a savage mentality perceives each event as a unique occurrence with no connection to other events. But the birth of understanding, of science, and of advance above a savage level of existence begin when a man links different facts and occurrences together, sees generalities, identifies repeating patterns, abstracts causes of effects, and derives laws and principles governing the natural world. Newton's brilliant conceptualization of a universal force of gravitation brought order and coherence to many separate kinds of observed phenomena, from the motion of falling apples and pebbles to the orbital motions of the moon and planets. In his Principia Mathematica (l687), widely considered one of the greatest single contributions to the history of science, be demonstrated for the first time a unified system of scientific principles explaining natural phenomena. In his invention of differential and integral calculus, he laid the foundations for the development of mathematical tools essential to an enormous amount of modern science. His discoveries in optics and the nature of light were similarly fundamental and important.
During the last three decades or so of his life, he was master of the English Mint. During this time, he established the standards of weight, purity, and design for the one pound coin, the golden Sovereign, which was for the next two centuries the most widely known, respected, and used standard of value and coin of trade in the world. It was the heart of the classical Gold Standard, and as such was one of the basic factors promoting British prosperity and greatness during that time, and giving to the whole world an unparalleled period of economic stability during which free trade and free enterprise flourished.
So, on Christmas Day, let's also remember Sir Isaac Newton, one of the forgotten men of Christmas, who cast light on so many of the natural principles of our modern world and very good way of life. Of all appreciative words which have been written about him, surely the most graceful must be the epitaph written by Alexander Pope, almost his contemporary:
''Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night; God said, ''Let Newton be.'' and all was light.''
Along with our traditional Christmas dinner, gaily decorated tree, and song-fest, we also take time to tell the stories of the forgotten men of Christmas, and to sing an enthusiastic Happy Birthday to Sir Isaac.