There’s a small town named Brewster in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, not far from the famous Plymouth Rock. The simple, quiet, and humble community is named after the pastor and spiritual leader of the Mayflower, the first Protestant minister to step foot in North America, the man who broke bread with Samoset and Squanto, and the reverend credited with speaking the very first Thanksgiving Prayer. That man, William Brewster, is my direct ancestor.
This gave me an unparalleled “fun fact” while I was growing up. Some could say they caddied for Michael Jordan at the nearby Merit Club, created their own butterfly garden, or were the star of a summer musical, but no one could touch the story of my ancestor and the first Thanksgiving prayer. I’m proud to be related directly to the man who helped influence the development of the greatest, richest, and most powerful civilization in world history.
Every Thanksgiving, we gather as a family, and the oldest living William Brewster continues the tradition, thanking God for the blessings he has bestowed upon us. My name is no coincidence, with it a tradition to name the oldest male in each family William. Thanksgiving always includes “the annual William Brewster picture.” Extended family included, there are usually five to six of these in attendance. One day, when my father leaves this world, it will be my turn to lead the Brewster family’s Thanksgiving prayer.
Yet I am not writing an in-depth study of the Pilgrims, to boast about William Brewster, or to comment on family Thanksgiving traditions. I am writing to tell the truth, because today, like many other famous stories, notable figures, and documented events in American history, Thanksgiving is under attack.
Today, when the November holiday rolls around, social media is polluted with slanderous remarks directed towards the Pilgrims and Americans who genuinely celebrate and appreciate the holiday. Some refer to the Pilgrims as evils like murderers, warmongers, bigoted racists, and socialists. Here are some common examples:
Coincidentally, these are largely the same people who hate America, yet choose to live here and reap its benefits, advocate for the abolition of capitalism, slander the Founding Fathers, spit on the flag, block roads, burn down cities, harass those who disagree with them, scream and cry when their candidate loses, then try to lecture us on “love and tolerance.” Well, I think tolerance and disagreement are not mutually exclusive.
Is Thanksgiving based on lies spewed by old, ignorant, white males? What were the Pilgrims really like? Did they befriend the Pokanoket Indians or murder them? Did they purposely infect them with smallpox? Did they really teach, preach, and practice socialism?
Let’s reason through this together. One hundred and two people set sail on the Mayflower, and only 51 were alive after the first winter. So, 51 people, with the majority being women and children, waged a war against thousands of trained Native American warriors? While this war may exist in the minds of the radical left, it is surprisingly not found in any historical texts, and frankly makes no sense.
The idea that the Pilgrims pillaged the land, disrupted complete harmony among the Native Americans, and systemically and brutally exterminated them through unprovoked attacks is utter fantasy. The Pilgrims lived in peace with their neighbors until June 1675, when Metacom declared all-out war against New World settlers. This occurred after 54 years of peace and long after Brewster’s death.
This may shock the self-proclaimed “social justice warriors,” but in roughly 250 years of recorded contact with Native Americans, Indians carried out more than 50 more massacres and killed an estimated 2,000 more settlers than vice versa. You probably missed those statistics if you consider Howard’s Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” to be absolute truth.
I’ll never forget one conversation in college when a friend told me something along the lines of, “We were brainwashed into believing that Thanksgiving was a real historical event, when in reality, the Pilgrims purposely handed them blankets covered in smallpox.” Like many absurdities perpetrated by “progressives,” it was easily refutable. There is no historical evidence of smallpox on the Mayflower. Further, the New England Native American tribes were decimated by war and disease from other northern Native American tribes between 1616-1618, years before the arrival of Brewster and the Pilgrims.
Let’s address the idea that the Pilgrims thrived with socialism. The roots of the American capitalism machine can in fact be traced to the Pilgrims’ early failures. Originally, as documented by Gov. William Bradford and Brewster, their colony was enticed by the promising ideas of a communal economic structure.
However, over time, they found that it killed economic growth, promoted laziness, led to an increased reliance on other people’s labor, and caused division, strife, and resentment amongst those who were tired of slaving away for others who were not willing to put in the same amount of work. Faced with severe famine and a stagnant economy in 1623, the Pilgrims abandoned work and resource redistribution and embraced individual-driven labor and rewards, and the rest is history.
Motivated by raw competition, hard work, and economic growth, they became more industrious and entrepreneurial, and the local economy never looked back. In fact, when the Founding Fathers were creating the framework for the United States in the late 18th century, they envisioned the American economy through the lens of Plymouth Colony’s trial and error experiment with socialism and capitalism.
Thanks to what the Pilgrims established in 1623, over the next few centuries, the United States blossomed into the most powerful economic and military complex in world history. I find it no coincidence that those who defame the Pilgrims are also those beating the drums for “democratic socialism.” I’m not entirely sure what Thanksgiving Day looks like in the homes of Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but they are only about 400 years behind in their thinking.
Lastly, the legacy of the Pilgrims is not setting the stage for later wars between Native Americans and European settlers. History tells us that William Brewster taught love, forgiveness, and tolerance. The American ideals of the melting pot, standing united despite political and religious differences, building a civilization with the Bible as the backbone, and the fact that this nation is a beacon for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are all rooted in the story of Brewster, Squanto, and the first Thanksgiving.
The truth about Thanksgiving is that the United States cannot be fully explained without it. President Abraham Lincoln was right to establish it as a national holiday in 1863, because the story is the cornerstone of American grit, ideology, ethics, and economic might. I am proud to be an American and proud to be a Brewster, and I will not allow the left to corner me into feelings of guilt over my family legacy.
With that, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!