Plymouth Stock

The talking point popular among right-leaning libertarians that the Plymouth colony is an example of the failure of the commons has been dealt with on C4SS. But it takes a list to make clear just how often the same piece has been rewritten:

  1. Tom Bethell, “How Private Property Saved the Pilgrims”, the Hoover Institution’s Hoover Digest
  2. Jerry Bowyer, “Lessons From A Capitalist Thanksgiving”, Forbes
  3. Meredith Bragg and Nick Gillespie, “The Pilgrims and Property Rights”, Reason
  4. Jim Cox, “Celebrating Individualist Private Property—Based Production Day”, the Ludwig von Mises Insitute’s
  5. Thomas J. DiLorenzo, “Giving Thanks for Private Property”,
  6. Richard Ebeling, Thanksgiving: Celebrating the Birth of Free Enterprise in America”, Epic Times
  7. Gary M. Galles, “Property and the First Thanksgiving”, the Ludwig von Mises Insitute’s Mises Daily
  8. Anthony Gregory, “Giving Thanks to the Market”, the Independent Institute’s The Beacon
  9. Daniel Griswold, “How Capitalism Saved the Pilgrims”, the Cato Institute’s Cato at Liberty
  10. Henry Hazlitt, “Private Enterprise Regained” (PDF), the Foundation for Economic Education’s The Freeman (In his editorial comments to the 2004 issue, C4SS’s own Sheldon Richman concurred.)
  11. Kathryn Hickok. “What Governor Bradford Learned at Plymouth’s First Thanksgiving”, Cascade Policy Institute
  12. Aloysius Hogan , “Thanksgiving and Markets“, Competitive Enterprise Institute
  13. Jacob G. Hornberger, “Thanksgiving, Socialism, and the Free Market”,
  14. Richard J. Maybury, “The Great Thanksgiving Hoax”, Mises Daily
  15. Benjamin W. Powell, “The Pilgrims’ Real Thanksgiving Lesson”, the Independent Institute
  16. Sartell Prentice, Jr., “Our First Thanksgiving”, The Freeman (and summarized succinctly in an official tweet)
  17. Howard Rich, “A Thanksgiving Lesson”, Americans for Limited Government’s NetRightDaily
  18. Murray N. Rothbard, “What Really Happened at Plymouth”, Mises Daily, excerpted from Rothbard’s book Conceived In Liberty
  19. Byron Schlomach, “Giving Thanks for Lessons Learned”, Goldwater Institute
  20. Paul Schmidt, “The Real Story Behind Thanksgiving”, the Advocates for Self-Government’s The Liberator Online
  21. John Stossel, “The Tragedy of the Commons” (2007), “Happy Starvation Day” (2010), “Thankful for Property” (2013) and “Thanks, Property Rights!” (2014), Creators Syndicate
  22. Alex Tabarrok, “A Thanksgiving Lesson”, Marginal Revolution
  23. Kim Weissman, “The Plymouth Experiment”, Congress Action
  24. “The Real Thanksgiving Story”, webpage with unidentified author on the website of the Foundation for Economic Education (as well as a prominent section in founder Leonard Read’s famous speech “The Essence of Americanism”).

It should be noted that some of the pieces, unlike the one analyzed in the linked C4SS piece, do mention that Plymouth’s economics were imposed by it being a corporation, but none draw a parallel to the modern corporation’s not escaping the same problems. (Prentice’s remark that “Each time I produce less, in my work, than enough to earn a profit for my employer, I am stealing from someone else” gets it even more backward.)

Compare with the take on Plymouth of single-taxers like Fred Foldvary. The elision of the otherwise eagerly-cited account by William Bradford’s noting that his assigning colonists private land was “only for present use (but made no devission for inheritance)” has long been one of their points of contention with the mainstream libertarian movement.

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