Here’s the arrangement the Pilgrims used when they first landed:

“Although they planted household gardens almost from the start, they collectivized initial field and livestock operations. The settlers had some agricultural successes, but they were unable to grow corn in their common field. Within six months of reaching Plymouth, almost one-half of the population had perished from disease.

That’s a quote from Professor Robert Ellickson in Prof. Don Boudreaux’s article The Pilgrims’ economic progress.

A collectivized farming system didn’t work too well.  Starvation was the result.

So, they changed their plans:

“In 1624 the Plymouth colonists deviated from the investors’ plan and assigned each family from one to 10 acres, depending on the number of family members. This greatly increased productivity.”

The new plan allowed people to farm their own land and eat what they individually grew.

How did that work out? Prof. Boudreaux quotes Gov. William Bradford:

“(Privatization) had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corne was planted then other waise. … The women now wente willingly into the field, and tooke their little-ones with them to set corne, which before would aledg weaknes and inabilitie; whome to have compelled would have bene thought great tiranie and oppression.”

Read more:

A collectivized system where people do not benefit from their own work leaves everyone hungry. A privatized system where you get to eat what you raised means everyone works harder and everyone has more food.

A better summary from the professor:

…the Pilgrims’ existence in Plymouth Plantation continued to be precarious until they abandoned primitive communism and adopted private-property rights.

Collectivism or statism is thought to be cool.

Which of the two approaches used by the Pilgrims do you think is moral?


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *