The First Thanksgiving — by Benjamin Franklin; The Rock and the Boat, 2008



Benjamin Franklin A few years ago Your Business Blogger(R) packed up kith and kin for some conference in Boston. While Charmaine was at a meeting, we remainders traveled around Plymouth Meeting to see a rock and a boat.

National Symbols of the American Experiment.

Plymouth Rock on the water had a security gate with “1620” helpfully chiseled large. The Penta-Posse was not impressed. A short walk away is a replica of the Mayflower.

But I’m sure the Rock was the real thing…

So I am standing near the Rock; still with the emotion of the sacrifice. For family, faith and freedom.

The kids ask, “So, what’s the big deal?”

The American marketing had yet to work its magic.

We walk over to the museum and then board the wooden boat where constant maintenance is a way of life and large expense. So much (Christian) history.

I chat up the boat crew. The re-enactors on the Mayflower were not helpful. “The Mayflower Compact” was simply a legal document to keep from getting sued, they said. (Quite common among investors in those days too.)

The Compact, the Massachusetts actors asserted, was not, is not a religious relic. The Actors were animated, “It had nothing to do with God.” The phrasing undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith… was legal mumbo-jumbo used by the lawyers of the day to preface any brief.

The Pilgrim Puritans aimed for Virginia and got Massachusetts. Land of Kennedy, Kerry and Barney Frank. I should not have been surprised at the ship’s crew’s blasphemy.

The Mayflower itself, the Actors in period custom said thru a smile, was simply, “A water borne taxi…”

No wonder my kids were bored. The Actors were bored. And boring.

And wrong.

We are so lucky. We should be thankful. Even if Massachusetts is not.

Happy Thanksgiving.


The Real Story of the First Thanksgiving

By Benjamin Franklin (1785)

“There is a tradition that in the planting of New England, the first settlers met with many difficulties and hardships, as is generally the case when a civiliz’d people attempt to establish themselves in a wilderness country.

Being so piously dispos’d, they sought relief from heaven by laying their wants and distresses before the Lord in frequent set days of fasting and prayer. Constant meditation and discourse on these subjects kept their minds gloomy and discontented, and like the children of Israel there were many dispos’d to return to the Egypt which persecution had induc’d them to abandon.

“At length, when it was proposed in the Assembly to proclaim another fast, a farmer of plain sense rose and remark’d that the inconveniences they suffer’d, and concerning which they had so often weary’d heaven with their complaints, were not so great as they might have expected, and were diminishing every day as the colony strengthen’d; that the earth began to reward their labour and furnish liberally for their subsistence; that their seas and rivers were full of fish, the air sweet, the climate healthy, and above all, they were in the full enjoyment of liberty, civil and religious.

“He therefore thought that reflecting and conversing on these subjects would be more comfortable and lead more to make them contented with their situation; and that it would be more becoming the gratitude they ow’d to the divine being, if instead of a fast they should proclaim a thanksgiving.

His advice was taken, and from that day to this, they have in every year observ’d circumstances of public felicity sufficient to furnish employment for a Thanksgiving Day, which is therefore constantly ordered and religiously observed.”

* * *

Of course, today, in our age of super-sized gluttony, one wonders if we might ought to go back to the fasting idea. . .

Excerpted from The Compleated Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin, edited by Mark Skousen, a professor at Columbia University and a descendant of Franklin’s, at Human Events Online. Hat tip: Drudge.

Originally posted The First Thanksgiving — by Benjamin Franklin, November 24, 2005, at Reasoned Audacity.

How did Benjamin Franklin get so rich as to retire at 42? Follow Ben Franklin’s Business/Personal Success Model. Today’s Politicos are not the first to get comfortable from public service service.

The Mayflower Compact at the jump.

“In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, e&. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In Witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini, 1620.”


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1 Response

  1. Pat Patterson says:

    I don’t really mind holding up the Pilgrims in a more flattering light then they probably deserved because I wonder how many today take off from civilized Europe to a land where the Devil lived again in the edges of the nearby chaotic forests or even earlier drowning was a distinct possibility before even reaching the New World.

    But I recognize the necessity of Randolph Hearst’s quote, “If you are forced to print the truth or the myth, you always print the myth.” The Pilgrims were considered “sharp” businessmen even by those notorious hairsplitters in Amsterdam so an awareness of the legal and fiduciary mess they were in even before landing makes the Mayflower Compact both a shield against the inevitable and soon to be favorite American sport of arguing about everything court. As well as an agreement to recognize rights and responsibilities thousand of miles away from both English and Dutch common law.

    Besides every time I hear mention of Plymouth Rock two things come to mind, the first being Malcom X’s famous quote about the Rock landing on them and an old Paul Newman film that left some poor reeanactor trying to stand up on the Rock which had been liberally coated with grease.

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