Penn Wealth Publishing

2018.11.18 Penn Wealth Report Vol 6 Issue 05

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6 PeNN Wealth Report volume 6 issue 05 18 Nov 2018 Copyright 2018. All Rights Reserved. strategic vision The first American settlers arrived at Jamestown in May of 1607. is group of 104 pioneers was commissioned by the Virginia Company of London to settle the land, search for gold, and identify a water route to the Orient. Within six months, all but three dozen were dead, mostly due to starvation. Persistently, the group of London entrepreneurs sent 500 more volunteers two years later. In what his- tory records as "the starving time," within six months an inconceivable 440 of this group were dead. Once again, the main culprit was famine. How could such industrious individuals, willing to take on the rigors of settling a new land, die of hunger when sur- rounded by endless bounty? e colonists at Jamestown had no direct financial stake in their individual efforts. For the next seven years, all that they produced was, by charter, to go into a collective pool for supporting the colony and generating profits for the company. Whether they worked hard or barely at all, the outcome was the same for each individual. In fact, many grew indolent and lazy due to the perception that they were pulling the cart, so to speak, for others in the group. e Mayflower Sets Sail On 16 September 1620, a group of Pilgrims seeking religious freedom in the New World set sail aboard the Mayflower. While on the voyage, they signed one of the most extraordinary documents in human history—the Mayflower Compact. is document, formulated by expedition leader William Bradford, charted the path for self-government in the new land. Much is owed to William Bradford. Not only was he the primary author of the document, he also penned recordings of the group's travails in a book ultimately renamed "Of Plymouth Plantation." In the book he described the destitute conditions of the colony, and spoke of the "fifty or so" who remained of the original 104 which had disembarked. (ere were also roughly 40 sailors on board the Mayflower who sailed back to London; these sailors were not trusted by the Pilgrims—for good cause—and were not allowed into the Compact discussions.) Bradford also spoke of those who worked tirelessly, like the Reverend Brewster and the group's military commander, Miles Standish. Unfortunately, the colony was organized much like the one which had been decimated at Jamestown—all would work for the collective, with everything produced going into a common stash. A New Idea Saves the Pilgrims William Bradford described in his writings how, during the depths of despair, this group of religious Pilgrims decisively changed their circumstances and began to thrive. It was decided that each family was to be given their own parcel of land. Whatever they produced was to be used as they saw fit. What wasn't consumed directly by the family could be bartered for other goods, thus establishing the first rudimen- tary system of organized trade in the New Land. Bradford noted how those who had been indo- lent or unwilling to work, feigning weakness or poor health, suddenly became productive members of the group. A communal system had nearly doomed the American Pilgrims, but, as Bradford noted in his famous passage, "God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them." By the middle of the 1600s, private farms dotted the New England countryside. American Migration and Expansion Begins As the Pilgrims' offspring and new settlers began their expansion into other regions, they began to form into groups. Each group would make the most of their surroundings: those on the coast undertook commer- cial fishing, trading with Europe; those inland would become trappers and farmers, trading their goods along ever-expanding trade routes. Others would become craftsmen, starting what would become America's manufacturing class. As we look at circumstances today, 399 years after the Mayflower set sail, what core values have changed? e truths that led the Pilgrims from fam- ine to success are the same principles which guide us today. Let's remember them, and honor their sacrifice. American Heritage An American anksgiving The Great Experiment: America's early settlers quickly came to realize that the path to prosperity was freedom, not collectivism is article was originally pub- lished as a letter to clients in 2004, with a reprint in Vol 2, Issue 25. It seemed appropriate to reprint it once more in this issue of the Report.

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