Let’s talk about a time in our early American history when the Colonies (specifically, the Pilgrims) tried Communism, which failed. A point often overlooked is that what goes around comes around. It seems like Americans are being sold Communism all over again (which, by any other name, is still Communism). With this in mind, our younger generations are buying this failed system’s promises “hook, line, and sinker.” After all, isn’t doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results defined as “insanity?”
I am grateful to one of my favorite historians, Bill Federer, for his article on this subject and his contributions to today’s post. (1)
The Lead Up to Communism -A Bit of Background
A time after the Mayflower Compact (1620), there were three types of colonies recognized by European monarchies:
Company Charter Colonies
Royal Crown Colonies
How These Colonies Worked
First were Company Charter Colonies- If you wanted to found a colony, you risked your own money, not the King’s treasures, to start your own settlement. The King gave you permission to do so. In exchange for his permission, he received a portion of your profits.
You may recall from your studies a type of Company Charter Colony with names like The Dutch East India Company, The British East India Company, and the Virginia Company of London. The Dutch and British East India Companies were highly successful and profitable, but the Virginia Company of London failed due to famine, disease, and death by natives. So, the failed colony venture was returned to the King, who began the Royal Crown Colonies.
The failed Virginia Colony was one of these Royal Crown Colonies, which the King ruled through one of his appointed Governors. If you lived in the Virginia Royal Crown Colony, the King’s appointed Governor let you decide how you, as a colony, would make a profit to pay him because the King provided no funding. You may recall that the Virginia House of Burgesses was the people’s legislature that made laws to make this Virginia Colony work.
But then there were Proprietary Colonies, where the King gave land as private property to a person. This was not a company or a joint venture. Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the Carolinas began as this type of colony.
Communism and the Pilgrims’ Plymouth Plantation Colony
The Plymouth Plantation Colony was a company colony with investors who loaned the Pilgrims money to make their trip. The investors expected to be paid back and make a profit. Now, here’s where the experiment goes sideways.
The Pilgrims set up a Communist-style government with the agreement of the investors. All property was held in the community (think: Communist, i.e., you will own nothing but share everything- land, homes, goods, furniture, livestock, etc. All their profits were to be held in common and shared equally with the investors. There were no consequences for those who didn’t work hard and no special benefits for those who did. If you busted tail to make the communal living experiment work, good for you, but no additional compensation.
Unquestionably, this Communist arrangement was a failure. If you have ever been involved in a work situation where you bear all the burden but don’t get rightly compensated, you know the pitfalls. If you love to win and succeed, but your team couldn’t care less, well, you get the idea.
The Pilgrims tried this for several years before declaring the communal redistribution of wealth a failure. With input from the people, the Governor began to let every family own a parcel of land and farm it. Now, they could be charitable and help others by their own will, not force and involuntary servitude. Instead, the Pilgrims could keep the fruits of their labor and govern themselves in peace.
Why isn’t this history taught today as a failure of Communism rather than labeling early settlers with a derogatory twist of the term “colonizers?”
The Colonies Tried Communism, and it failed.
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship.🇺🇸
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