Every year Americans go through the thoughtless rituals of Thanksgiving Day, without actually knowing anything about the Pilgrims, the Mayflower Compact, or the society the Puritans established in modern day Massachusetts. In an ironic twist of fate, millions of Americans sit down to a turkey feast, in order to celebrate the religious freedom of early settlers who came to the New World precisely for the purpose of creating a Zion in the Wilderness, a utopian place where absolutely NO religious freedom would be allowed.
Several years before the Mayflower arrived with the first boat-load of illegal immigrants, Puritan separatists fled England for the Netherlands, soon deciding to relocate altogether in the Americas. However, these Puritans did not so much seek freedom, as much as they sought to escape what they thought was a permissive environment, fostered by the Church of England. The migration of the Pilgrims in 1620 was the beginning of a larger migration of Europeans to the New World. The increasing interest in the New World as a source of easily exploitable wealth enabled the Pilgrims to obtain financing through the assistance of a group of investors called the London Adventurers. The agreement was that the Adventurers would put up the money, and the settlers would perform the labor, and they would divide the profits equally. Needless to say, this venture -- while historic -- was not profitable. The original decision had been to land within the domain of the Virginia charter, but as a result of bad weather, they wound up in what is today Massachusetts. The Mayflower Compact, the document that was signed by those first settlers, was not intended to imply that the settlers were agreeing upon any new or radical democratic system of government. It was actually a modified form of customary church covenant to meet a temporary crisis in an unfamiliar situation. This first European state in the New World, at Plymouth, was a theocratic dictatorship. It was a throwback to the 1200s, with a pillory and public stockade for those who gave in to temptation, and engaged in any disallowed activity. The Mayflower Compact guaranteed that the colony would remain under the iron control of the Pilgrim Fathers for the first 40 years of its existence.
After Plymouth was settled, other people started to settle in the area around Boston Harbor. A small fishing company tried to establish a foothold on Cape Ann, which was the forerunner of a much more significant colonizing movement than had as yet taken place in north America. In Europe, the social scene was restless, from religious, political and economic causes. The Puritans came to dominate New England, and they represented a movement of Christians within the Anglican Church who felt that a more thorough reformation was necessary than that provided for by the Elizabethan religious settlement. The term "puritan" originated as an epithet of contempt, as a pejorative. Some of the Puritans did not like the idea of waiting for the Church of England to see the light, and reform itself, so they struck out on their own. This was the main distinction between the Plymouth Puritans, and the Massachusetts Bay Colony Puritans: Plymouth being dominated by a Separatist Puritan sect, and Massachusetts being dominated by a Non-separatist sect.
Massachusetts Bay was the strongest colony in New England, and it had been founded in 1629, by a charter granted to, "The Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England." It was clear that the intention of the Crown had been to charter an ordinary stockholder-type commercial venture, but through shrewd and illegal maneuvers, the benefactors of the charter transferred the management and the charter itself to the New World, to Massachusetts itself. This not only made it possible for the Company to exert local control over the chartered area and its residents, but it became the foundation for the unwarranted assumption that a mere charter for a commercial concern was actually a grant of plenipotentiary powers of government, with an undefinable dependence upon the legitimate Government of the Mother Country. The settlers of Massachusetts came to America to have freedom to worship for themselves, but they had no intention of creating a refuge for others to look to as a sanctuary for democratic freedom. In fact, the leaders of Massachusetts fought religious liberty with every weapon at their disposal. Such leaders as Winthrop, Dudley, Endecott, and the Rev. John Cotton, were strongly opposed to democracy, were fanatical in their zealousness to prevent any independence in religious views, and had NO trust in the people at large. Of course, like Hitler's totalitarian regime, there developed an underground resistance, which became known when individuals were caught breaking the regime's "rules."
The test of any culture's level of civilization is how it treats its criminals. "Criminals" are people who have broken laws, but government's have been known to stretch this a bit, when they shorten the trial process, or corrupt the charging process, by which an individual is accused of lawlessness. The mark of an unjust state is when it will charge people with wrongdoing without going through the customary process of proving a case in court, under the principles of law. This is the mark of a totalitarian state, as that which existed under Adolf Hitler in Germany*, or Mussolini in Italy, and the Puritans in Massachusetts. The first to be banished from the "Zion in the Wilderness", was Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island in 1636. Another religious dispute resulted in the banishment of Anne Hutchinson. The leaders of the colony were seriously criticized in England for their repressive measures, which continued for another generation until they were halted by the intervention of royal authority.
The Puritans believed that they were the "select," and they intended to establish their ideal Christian paradise in the New World, "a city set on a hill," as an example to the rest of the world of "righteousness." In Massachusetts they established a Bible based theocracy, in which only church members had any political rights. Church membership, on the other hand, was dependent upon the individual being certified as "regenerate," or a child of a "regenerate" who "own(s) the covenant." Religious uniformity was fanatically enforced, dissenters being warned that they had the "right" to stay away, or to take up land of their own outside the boundaries of Massachusetts, in an early version of the "Get out of Dodge at Noon," mentality. The clergy was the driving force in the political structure of the Puritan theocracy, but the system worked against itself, as all fascist systems ultimately do. The banishment of Roger Williams, and his founding of Providence, led to the development of Providence as a safe harbor for dissidents escaping the regimented Orwellian state of the Massachusetts Bay colony. The succeeding generation witnessed a decline of religious zeal, and when the clergy tried to whip it up again, in the dying gasp of the theocracy to keep a death-grip on political power, by interpreting recurring scandals and misfortunes as signs of divine wrath against a sinning public, the public rejected it. The replacement of the original commercial charter with a genuine crown charter in 1691, put to rest for the time, the aspirations of the clergy to rule. Of course, that harshness of rule, narrow-mindedness and self-satisfaction which was characteristic of Massachusetts which was not attributable to the Puritan mindset, was motivated by the desire for profit.
The mid-1600's saw a great wave of immigration from Europe into north America, and areas like Massachusetts began to expand, as new illegal European immigrants invaded the defenseless lands of the native Americans. This brought on troubles with the native Americans, who rightfully felt wronged by the pioneers who answered questions of right with a bullet between the eyes. In 1637, a war with the Pequots practically annihilated that tribe. (In the same year, a synod of the clergy held in Boston, listed 82 blasphemous, erroneous or unsafe opinions held by people in the colony).
In 1644, the good Christian folk of Massachusetts showed what they mean't by Christian love, when they adopted laws against the Baptists, who were treated with genuine cruelty. The Quakers were also persecuted mercilessly, four being murdered; and many others whipped, imprisoned, branded or banished. At the time of the English Civil War and the Regicide, Massachusetts pretty much became a law unto itself, its leaders arrogating to themselves almost absolute power. For the next 30 years, London pretty much had its hands full with the Cromwellian regime, and a European war, and Massachusetts was able to avoid any formal sanctions through basically evasive and delaying tactics. However, the colonists were pursuing a grasping land policy which was causing the native American Indians increasing degrees of desperation, as the encroaching White Man deliberately penned them in. One of the most powerful driving forces among the white people was pure greed, something that is justified today with the capitalist ideological-moral that if it makes money, it is good.
King Philip's War was only one in a long string of wars between European settlers and native Americans, and while the white people won the war, they lost one in every 16 males of military age due to the heavy fighting. This War, however, brought Massachusetts to the Crown's attention, which, as a result of the colonial leader's evasive tactics, suspended its charter in 1684, thereby freeing the residents from the unlawful arrangements the clergy had imposed upon them. The Puritans really had no friends anywhere, and both Plymouth Colony and Massachusetts Bay Colony ceased to exist, with no one in London to defend them, to be replaced with a new charter in 1691, which incorporated Plymouth into Massachusetts, along with Maine, under a new regime of professionals, who were sent out from London. The English king of America put the theocracy to an end, and provided for a stable colonial administration, showing that the Crown is one of the most progressive and vital institutions of government known to mankind.
It is a serious mistake to practice holidays based on a false history. The young people find out on their own that they are involved in a lie, and it makes them rage with fury and contempt. To watch a whole society practice empty rituals that celebrate horrible people, while deceiving ourselves into justifying what those horrible people did, is an abomination. It should surprise no one that after raising children honoring the memory of the Pilgrim fathers, that they grow up to hate freedom as much as the Forefathers did. It should surprise no one that a society that worships the Pilgrims -- who ruthlessly scalped the Indians (teaching them how to do it**), who indiscriminately torched Indian villages, and murdered their women, children and elders in the precursors of total war, and holocaust -- should produce children who grow up to join street gangs, and who seek the experience of murdering other human beings for kicks.
It is also true that just because some fascists were involved in the origins of America, it does not mean that America is a captive legacy. The flag, the symbols of national identity, they go deeper than the memory of a few old cronies, and their corrupt and mean-spirited domination. Indeed, Americans can salvage the Day of Thanksgiving, as a day of personal atonement. A day when the individual looks within, and takes stock of his or her actions, to warrant to one's own self that one is true to one's own convictions. Ancient honor looks within. We must summon courage, and be bold, and conceive of something that we can do in service to the nation. It is empty pomposity to merely celebrate some ancient myth; the very falsity of the myth, and its very exaggeration of the motives of the protaginists, making it almost the equal of blasphemy. Far better that Americans celebrate the good things in America, such as the ancient customs that guarantee them freedom, despite eras of institutional domination, which must be checked by that ancient and venerable institution, the crown of law.
*Hier liegt der unbekannte Verfasser mal daneben: Im Dritten Reich war die Justiz - anders als heute in der BRDDR, die ihre höchsten Richterämter ausschließlich nach Parteibuch-Gesichtspunkten vergibt - noch unabhängig und unparteiisch, wie u.a. der Prozeß um den Reichstagsbrand zeigt.
**wohl wahr. Die braven Indianer pflegten ihre Opfer ursprünglich nicht zu skalpieren, sondern zu kastrieren, und sich aus ihren Hodensäcken Tabaksbeutel zu machen.
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