So I’ve been reading The Patriots History of the United States. I’m now finally through the first chapter, so about 1/64th of the book, lol. That first chapter contained so many completely new ideas and facts that to recount them here would take too long. You’ll just have to read the book for yourself.
Among the many things I didn’t know was that America already knows that Communism – or wealth redistribution – does not work. We know that because we already tried it, and it failed miserably.
One of the ongoing problems shared by nearly all of the early colonies was the problem of population – too little population. Each colony needed a certain number of people to achieve critical mass – that point where there were enough people there to ensure the survival of the colony. Each colony developed different strategies to attract new settlers – usually new European immigrants, but sometimes folks from one of the other colonies. Colonies originally intended to be a sort of Mecca for a certain religious viewpoint found themselves becoming ardent supporters of Freedom of Religion in order to attract enough people to have a viable economy, for example.
But Jamestown was the most interesting to me. Jamestown was the first colony. It almost failed. It’s bizarre to think of how different things might be today if EVERYONE had died in Jamestown, instead of just the vast majority. Virginia was fertile beyond their imaginations. The land was abundant with game, wild fruits, and other foods. Yes, they parked their butts near a malaria-infested swamp, and next door to some Indians who really didn’t appreciate the company, but these difficulties were not what brought the colony down.
The problem with Jamestown was that it was originally a communist settlement. Did you know that? I did not. All of the laborers were required to put the fruits of their labor into a community pool. Since hard work was not personally beneficial, some folks simply quit working hard. Those who didn’t work were often punished severely, even hanged, but even that did not solve the problem. It’s not that the Jamestown people were lazy or bad people – they were just humans. When your labor doesn’t benefit you, you have a tendency to quit working as hard. From other accounts I’ve read, the Jamestown colonists (much like the Pilgrims, though we never hear about this for some reason) resorted to stealing from the communal storehouse and each other, and eating dogs and horses, and rats, and sometimes other people.
In 1611, a new governor, Dale, realized what the problem was and established private property rights. Each colonist was given a plot of land all their own, and they could keep what they produced. This was the turning point with Jamestown. It also served to attract even more settlers from England to come to Jamestown – England, being an island, had no land available. If you weren’t born into land, you had little chance of ever owning any. But in the New World, land was abundant… and now you could own your own little piece of it. Soon after, the colonists tinkered enough with tobacco to create a crop that could compete with the stuff grown in the West Indies, and their economy took off.
(As an aside, did you know that tobacco was originally rolled into a little bunch, then stuffed up into one nostril and smoked that way? Interesting.)
Communism. We’ve tried it. It was a miserable failure. Let’s not repeat that experiment, eh?