TAMPA, Fla., November 27, 2013 — Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and millions of schoolchildren couldn’t be happier. Not only will they have a fantastic meal on Thursday, but they get a mini-vacation from school. For at least the past week, they’ve been cutting Pilgrim hats and Native American headdresses out of crepe paper and listening to stories about the Pilgrims’ first few years in Plymouth Plantation.
Little do they know they’ve been lied to.
It’s not that what they’re told isn’t true. The Pilgrims did sail over on the Mayflower. They did face incredible hardship, losing half their numbers during the first winter and half of their supplemented numbers again during the second. The Indians did help them. Squanto really did advise them to put a dead fish under each cornstalk to help it grow in the New England soil.
But that’s not why they stopped starving.
Governor William Bradford was quite explicit in his diary about the real reason the Pilgrims starved during the first two winters. It wasn’t because they were suddenly incompetent after prospering in England and the Netherlands for decades.