There is no holiday or tradition that is both solemn and deeply intertwined in the unique historical American ethnicity and spiritualism as Thanksgiving. The holiday has several meanings. The first is religious. The Mayflower Pilgrims celebrated their survival in Plymouth Colony with a feast and give thanks to God for their blessings. Today, deep within American culture Thanksgiving still carries the impulse to give thanks to the Almighty for one’s blessings during the year. Additionally, the holiday commemorates the story of the Mayflower passengers that founded Plymouth Colony as well as the cultural part of the United States known as the North or “the Union.” Thanksgiving has since been adopted by the rest of the regions of the United States. Finally, it also is a story of an early attempt at racial brotherhood and reconciliation, for the Plymouth Pilgrims’ feast also included local Indians.
One account of the Mayflower passengers and their tiny colony is William Bradford’s (1590–1657) handwritten manuscript called Of Plymouth Plantation, completed in 1651. The manuscript itself disappeared for a time, likely sent to London during the American Revolution by the last Royalist Governor of Massachusetts Thomas Hutchinson (1711–1780). It was returned just prior to the Civil War.
It is always illuminating to read a direct source. Of Plymouth Plantation is a story of the beginnings of a new people not unlike The Book of Exodus in the Bible. There is a difference, however. In Exodus, there is an undercurrent of sharp hatred on the part of the Hebrews towards the Egyptians and Canaanites that doesn’t exist in Bradford’s narrative. Of Plymouth Plantation is written in a calm, matter-of-fact style and the narrative is in chronological order.
William Bradford explains the flight of the Separatists from England to Holland, as well as his ideas on the validity of his Separatist, Protestant religious views. In Holland, the Pilgrims were able to worship in freedom, but were forced to work very hard. Eventually, someone in the congregation came up with the idea to migrate to “the northern parts of Virginia.” Key to this was that the Twelve Years Truce was coming to an end and the Spanish were expected to invade Holland. The Pilgrims felt that the Spanish in attacking Holland would likely be every bit as cruel as the Indians in the New World. The Congregation made plans to migrate. John Carver (c. 1584–1621) was a key organizer. Carver became governor of the colony and died (probably of a stroke) while doing spring planting in 1621.
The Pilgrims were undersupplied, debt-ridden, and many of the adults were past their physical peak. They had problems with suppliers, and one of their hired ships sprang leak and had to turn back to England. After a harrowing passage that involved a terrible storm, and the emergency use of a great iron screw to shore up a cracked beam mid-voyage, they arrived at Cape Cod. After an exploration of the area, they turned towards their original destination near what is now New York City. However, they were nearly wrecked on a stretch of dangerous seas now called Pollock Rip Shoals. The Pilgrims turned back and set up their settlement in Plymouth.
The rest of the story is well known. Their first winter was a disaster; many died. The living could barely bury the dead. The deaths that first winter would have taken a very emotional toll on the Mayflower passengers. Bradford’s wife Dorothy slipped into the sea and drowned. Her death could have been a suicide. The Mayflower returned to England with none of the expected furs or lumber to pay off their creditors. The Pilgrims loaded the ship with rocks as ballast.
It is clear that Bradford also kept abreast of the political events in England. He writes favorably about the Parliament faction winning in the English Civil War in the 1640s. He writes clearly about the theological controversies affecting Christendom during the seventeenth century.
Another narrative is how to carry out a difficult project with difficult personalities. This is perhaps the most lesson-filled part of Bradford’s book. The Pilgrims compromised with creditors, such as selling a firkin of butter to meet some payment. They were able to tolerate the sailors and non-Separatist Colonists on the long voyage. When they needed to create a set of rules to take the edge of the factions developing on the Mayflower, they did so by writing the Mayflower Compact. They also picked an excellent military leader in Captain Standish. They didn’t pick Captain John Smith of Jamestown (he could have taken over and thwarted the Pilgrim’s aims). They were also able to navigate the touchy situation with the Indians by fighting when they needed to fight, and entering into a fortunate treaty with the Wampanoag.
The Gold on Plymouth Was the Pilgrims Themselves
One would think that Spanish conquests would lay the foundation for most dynamic societies in the New World. The Conquistadores conquered the two largest Indian Empires and took their vast stores of gold. Then the Spaniards made their Indians slaves and sent them to mine even more gold, silver, and other minerals. The Spanish also got the best real estate in the West Indies and created profitable plantations. And yet other than South America’s Southern Cone, much of Spanish American society has fallen behind.
What allowed the Pilgrim’s on the poor soil of Cape Cod to eventually pull far ahead was that in 1621, the treasure on Plymouth Colony was not its resources, but its people.
In retrospect, it is clear the Pilgrims, and their later Puritan kinsmen that followed with Governor Winthrop, had a cultural package that was wealth unto itself. Their dynamism can be found between the lines of Bradford’s story. The Pilgrims had gone from the familiar rural England with its low, common lanes and green fields, to industrial Holland where they adapted well enough. From industrial Holland, they traveled to the American wilderness, adapted to it, and then the Pilgrim’s descendants conquered the entire continent of North America.
Their ability to adapt by absorbing new ideas was part of their cultural gold. For example, the helpful Indian Squanto didn’t teach the Pilgrims how to farm, the Pilgrims had already been farming in England. Instead, Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to farm in the new environment. Specifically he told them how to fertilize the sandy soil of Plymouth with fish and use non-English crops – corn, beans, and squash. The Pilgrims didn’t reject Squanto’s ideas; they were flexible enough to embrace them. It wasn’t just their adaptation in the humble garden, they were also able to adapt to carrying out diplomacy. The Pilgrim’s Indian policy was a masterstroke of Realpolitik, which was carried out by English yeomen and very minor gentry, not aristocratic government officials.
Today, New England remains an economic powerhouse of ordered prosperity. When the New Englanders moved west into the interior of North America, Yankees turned mudflats into great cities, and empty plains into wheat fields. Mayflower descendants have even explored space — astronaut Alan Shepard is descended from Mayflower passenger Richard Warren.
From a Darwinian perspective, the Pilgrims have also been wildly successful. Only 51 passengers of the Mayflower had children, and yet today, estimates of the Mayflower descendants number upwards of 30 million. To put this in perspective, the population of England in 1621 was approximately 4.6 million and today the population of England is 54 million.
The Pilgrims also didn’t recognize it, but because they came in family units and settled in a less than optimal area, they were able to create the closest thing to a white ethnostate that North America has yet seen. The Pilgrims were content to do their own labor, even the humblest of jobs. There was slavery in the New England colonies, but it never really took in culture where doing work was seen as obedience to God, i.e. the Protestant work ethic. When the Yankees started to take slaves as policy, the purpose was to get rid of non-whites. In King Philip’s War, Connecticut’s Major John Talcott (1630–1688) implemented a policy of selling captured Indians as slaves to Jamaica. In the process, he paid for the war, and made New England whiter.
Celebrating Thanksgiving as an Ethno-Political Act
In nearly every documentary that one can watch on TV about the Pilgrims, the Mayflower story is shown as emblematical of all immigrants. However, with all things, the story tends to only work for European immigrants. As the black Muslim Malcolm X famously said in a statement of profound truth, “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock; the rock was landed on us.” To many non-whites in America, the attempt at racial reconciliation in the first Thanksgiving in 1621 is irrelevant when the end result of the English settlement on New England was overwhelming white victory in King Philip’s War in 1676.
Jewish literature regarding Thanksgiving is mixed. Most articles about the holiday are neutral, and contain recipes and cultural fusion, but as white consciousness rises, Thanksgiving will come increasing under attack. The critical ethnic division in America is those of New England, Yankee descent and their assimilated European cousins, and Jews. Indeed, there is a long history of Jewish attacks on the culture in which they reside. Egyptologist Jan Assmann calls this normative inversion. Essentially Jews profane whatever is held sacred by others. This idea is mentioned in Leviticus 26:30:
And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcasses upon the carcasses of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.
Indeed, Leviticus 26:30 can easily be interpreted to mean destroy their high places, and cut down their images, and cast their carcasses upon the carcasses of their idols, and my soul shall abhor them. This casting down of images, and rendering what is sacred profane in regards to Thanksgiving is happening.
One example of this attack is through Hollywood in the movie Addams Family Values. In this 1993 film, Wednesday Addams (Christina Ricci) leads a group of clearly identified Jews and other minorities to roast and burn blonde-haired WASPs during a play about the Thanksgiving story at an upstate New York summer camp.
However, the biggest attack comes from Indian activists, and these activists are encouraged to do so by the Jewish activists. On his website, the late Howard Zinn (Jewish) promotes Indian anti-Thanksgiving attitudes, including a politically correct speech from Wampanoag Wamsutta (Frank B.) James.
I speak to you as a Man — a Wampanoag Man. . . . It is with mixed emotions that I stand here to share my thoughts. . . . The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors, and stolen their corn, wheat, and beans. . . . Our spirit refuses to die. Yesterday we walked the woodland paths and sandy trails. Today we must walk the macadam highways and roads. We are uniting. We’re standing not in our wigwams but in your concrete tent. We stand tall and proud and before too many moons pass we’ll right the wrongs we have allowed to happen to us.
The speech was written after the Plymouth, Massachusetts authorities invited Wamsutta to speak at a Thanksgiving celebration. According to the Zinn and the Wampanoag activist, the speech was “suppressed” after its contents were discovered.
Today, there is a considerable movement among Indians, as well as their anti-white allies calling Thanksgiving a Day of Mourning. This has picked up steam since Wamsutta’s “suppressed” speech in 1970. Writes, Alli Joseph, who has Shinnecock Indian heritage, “. . . for American Indians, Thanksgiving is a reminder of the genocide of millions of our people, the quashing of our culture and traditions and the stealing of our virgin lands.”
In the future, eating Thanksgiving turkey will be a racially-charged, political act. Happy Thanksgiving!