RealClearMarkets | by Steven Malanga | Nov. 25, 2009
Reading Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower, an account of the voyage of the Pilgrims and the settling of Plymouth Colony, what strikes me most is not simply the extraordinary suffering of those who made the crossing, or how close to failure the entire venture teetered for years, or even the author’s recounting of the first celebration we’ve since dubbed Thanksgiving.
What leaps out from the pages of the history, probably because it’s so little a part of the common narrative of the Pilgrims, is a crucial decision by the colony’s governor, William Bradford, to change the fundamental organization of Plymouth’s economy, a move which secured the colony’s future. As Philbrick describes it, after three years in America the Pilgrims “stumbled on the power of capitalism” and in the process ensured the colony’s survival. [Read more...]