A caller to Rush Limbaugh's show on Friday alerted him that on Sunday, the Los Angeles Times "Kids Reading Room" section would explain how the Pilgrims discovered that holding all their goods in common led to poverty, but economic freedom -- allowing each to keep their own crops -- led to prosperity.
Jennifer James told the story from a Thanksgiving dinner, where Grandpa explained the Pilgrim story to the children:
"Squanto taught the Pilgrims to grow corn!" Sam exclaimed. He's never going to forget that -- he played Squanto in the Thanksgiving Day play at school.
"That's right," Grandpa said. "But at first the Pilgrims were terrified of the Indians, as they called them. Then one day a tribesman named Samoset ventured into their encampment. He was tall and dark and by many accounts quite handsome. Loudly and plainly he proclaimed, 'Welcome!' in perfect English."
"The Pilgrims must have freaked!" shouted Sam.
Grandpa laughed and agreed. "I'm sure you're right. He had learned the language from English fishermen. For the Pilgrims, life was a constant battle for survival. Later, Governor William Bradford made a decision. Instead of the colonists sharing their crops equally, he assigned a parcel of land to each family and told them they could keep whatever they produced for themselves."
"Then what happened?" asked Sam.
"At last the Pilgrims began to prosper. Governor William Bradford wrote in his book 'Of Plimoth Plantation,' 'This had very good success, for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.' "
"Shoot! If you can keep everything you make, of course you're going to work harder. Everybody knows that."
Grandpa answered, "The first seed had been planted for the American Revolution. People were free to practice their religions as they saw fit and were free to keep the fruits of their labor. This had never happened before in the history of mankind. In the words of William Bradford, 'As one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation.' "
"That William Bradford sounds like a pretty cool guy," said Sam.
"He was a pretty cool guy," Grandpa said with a chuckle.