There’s a typical piece liberal hate-America snark in the New York Times today from Paul Krugman, celebrating Thanksgiving by calling the Pilgrim Fathers “illegal immigrants.”
“Think, for a minute, about what happened on the original Thanksgiving. (Yes, I know that there are doubts about what really happened, but never mind.)
Here’s how it went down: a bunch of people got together, with each group bringing what it could — the Wampanoag brought deer, the Pilgrims apparently shot some birds, etc.. Then everyone shared equally in the feast — regardless of how much they brought to the table. Socialism!
Worse yet, many of the lucky duckies benefiting from the largesse of this 17th-century welfare state were illegal immigrants. (That would be the Pilgrims).
We need to stop celebrating this deeply un-American event, and start celebrating something more in tune with the things that make America great, such as the Ludlow Massacre.”[Thanksgiving Is Un-American, NY Times, November 23, 2011, 11:15 am]
In fact, the Puritans experiment in socialism caused them to almost starve to death.[How Private Property Saved the Pilgrims, by Tom Bethell, Hoover Digest, January 30, 1999]
But I saw this because the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto linked to it [Best Of The Web, November 23, 2011] and as well as criticizing Krugman’s belief that sharing Thanksgiving Dinner makes you a socialist, he says
“Krugman seems unaware that there was no such thing as an illegal alien before the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.”
Taranto [Email him] unlike Krugman, doesn’t hate America, but he’s a major Open Borders nut, and his response to Krugman implies that Americans never tried to control immigration until some kind of racist spasm near the end of the nineteenth century. (There were a variety of good reasons for Chinese Exclusion.)
The Pilgrims were not illegal immigrants because the Indians didn’t have laws or a government—what the Pilgrims were was colonists. Some Indians saw them as invaders, others greeted them as rescuers, which they were.
And there was, in fact, immigration control between 1607 and 1882, but prior to 1875 it was a state level function, as it seems to be becoming once more. For example, in the 1820s, several states had inspection and bond posting schemes to deter paupers from entering and becoming a public charge.
However, I’ll point to something I wrote about ten years ago, the earliest immigration crisis in American history. Ben Wattenberg, in his book The First Universal Nation, wrote that immigration had always been unpopular, and said
“One gets the feeling that when the folks on the Mayflower went out to watch the next boats come in, they muttered to one another 'There goes the neighborhood.' “
This happens to be true. And with reason. The Columbia Encyclopedia says that the second ship so taxed the resources of the infant colony that the Pilgrims almost starved.
“During the first winter of the colony, about half of the settlers died from scurvy and exposure... A little corn was raised in 1621, and in October of that year the settlers celebrated the first Thanksgiving Day. However, the arrival of more colonists necessitated half rations, and it was several years before the threat of famine passed.”
So you might say that one of the things the people at the First Thanksgiving were thankful for was the traditional grace or toast “One between four of us,Thank God there’s no more of us.”
Of course, they had more resources than they knew. They had the whole North American continent to settle. Which they did, and now it's full up.
But our readers do, and I want to wish all of them a Happy Thanksgiving!
Previous VDARE.Com Thanksgiving Coverage Below:
09/25/03—Pressure On The Pot [Blast from Past! A 1989 Peter Brimelow column from the London Times.]