Continuing with the story of these brave and courageous Pilgrims we see how God’s hand was on the leadership of the new colony/plantation. This displays how important true leadership is in the beginning of every endeavor that involves establishing local government that promotes individual liberty and self-government.
In November, a ship arrived with thirty-five more colonists. There were many joyful reunions; however, these newcomers came empty-handed. Because there was not enough food to last throughout the long cold winter, the leaders chose to go on half-rations to stretch their supplies. Their harvest was plentiful for the original group but not enough to feed the additional newcomers.
By the end of the winter, they were allowed to eat only five kernels of corn a day per person. However, God was good and provided another ship that traded trinkets for their beaver pelts, which allowed them to buy additional corn. Not a single person died of starvation that winter. That is a miracle!
The first year they had shared everything and had all land in common. By the second year, there was little enthusiasm for planting. The people were listless and uninterested. Because they shared everything, those who worked hardest received the same amount as those who did no work. There was little incentive to work hard. And their very survival depended on everyone being willing to work hard to produce the food necessary for the fledgling plantation.
Governor Bradford prayed for insight into the problem and God answered. Bradford realized that the communal system was not God’s plan for them. This first experiment in communism failed to produce enough food to live on during the first two years. Their charter mandated that they have everything in common but with that ideology they never would survive much less flourish.
Finally, Governor Bradford gave each family a piece of land of their own (private property). This breathed new life into the colony and abundantly increased food production. Each family had their own business. With each passing year, the colony grew and prospered. This created the root free market Capitalism and free enterprise was birthed.
Their approach to each trial that came their way was to set aside days to fast and pray for the reason for the trial. Regardless of the cause, the sincere repentance of each person reached God’s heart. Because they witnessed the answers to the settlers’ prayers, the Indians began to take notice of the God of the Pilgrims.
By 1629, the incoming settlers had increased until none of their members were left in Leyden, Holland. Governor Bradford kept a journal to record the history and progress of the prosperous and growing Plymouth colony.
In his words, he wrote, “we have noted these things so that you might see their worth and not negligently lose what your fathers have obtained with so much hardship”. He did not want the next generation to forget what their parents had obtained through sacrifice and hard work. He knew that each generation needed to embrace the faith, values and work ethic of the previous generation. He also noted that “it was the Lord’s doing, and it ought to be marvelous in our eyes”.3
Take a moment to reflect on the greatness of God. He prepared the way for this colony, and through them, this nation.
Dinner Table Discussion Questions: Which economic system benefited all members of the colony? Why?
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