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4836Tomorrow's Big American Lie

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  • cohensmilk1
    Nov 27, 2013
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      "I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way.
      I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house,
      we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them
      and took their land."
      - Jon Stewart

      Children in America's schools are not taught the
      full truth regarding their Thanksgiving Holiday.

      Within a few years of the Pilgrim landing, most of
      the native male Wampanoag Indians were either killed
      or sent to live the rest of their lives as slaves
      harvesting sugar cane in Caribbean island nations.

      During the winter of 1621, 83 percent of the married
      Dutch women living in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts
      died in tragic fashion.

      Here is what really happened to make Thanksgiving
      so special nearly 400 years later:

      The first year in America the Pilgrims had very
      little for which to be thankful. That first bitter
      winter they had limited food supplies, poor clothing
      and crudely built housing. During the months before
      spring, fifteen of the eighteen married women died
      as did twenty-two of thirty-eight men. Because of
      this great trauma of death from starvation, something
      had to be done to assure the future survival of the

      In March of 1624, the first dairy animals came
      to Plymouth on the ship Charity, which delivered
      three cows and a bull to the grateful pilgrims.
      Within a generation every family in America had a
      dairy cow. Milk from these cows was churned into
      butter. Will and Ariel Durant who wrote "The Story
      of Civilization" revealed that a typical dairy cow
      in the 12th century yielded little milk. One can
      assume that cows in the 1600s yielded as much milk
      as cows in the 1300s. In "The Age of Faith, History
      of Life in the Middle Ages," the Durants wrote:

      "Dairy farming was un-progressive; the average cow
      in the thirteenth century gave little milk, and hardly
      a pound of butter per week."

      Making butter requires 21.2 pounds of milk for
      each "finished" pound of butter. One quart of milk
      weighs 2.15 pounds. A dairy cow in Plymouth Rock,
      Massachusetts might have yielded her Pilgrim family
      "hardly a pound of butter per week." That averaged
      out to three pounds of milk per day, about a quart

      People who believe that early Americans drank
      milk as a routine part of their diet do not consider
      how little milk cows gave. Nor do they consider the
      existence of butter churns. Butter churns weren't
      hood ornaments for Pilgrim's carriages. Pilgrims
      used them only for one purpose: to churn milk into
      butter. That three pounds of milk per day would
      yield only one-half stick of butter. Imagine fifteen
      of the eighteen Pilgrim wives dying during the first
      winter. Imagine the same proportion of the mothers
      in your community dying from starvation over the winter.
      You'd need emergency rations to survive. Fat from milk,
      stored underground, saved for the winter months. Got
      milk? No way! One-half stick of butter per day, one
      pound of butter per week, carefully and strenuously
      churned by a Pilgrim and stored for the cruel New
      England winter.

      Did the Pilgrims drink and store milk in the summer?
      Milk was loaded with bacteria that quickly spoiled,
      making it undrinkable. By churning the milk into
      butter and storing it underground, the fat was saved
      until it was needed. The Pilgrim experience made it
      necessary for every family to carefully store food
      through the bountiful months so that they might survive
      the hardships of winter. Butter became their insurance
      policy. It became necessary for every New England family
      to own a dairy cow. In a few years, that's just what

      Imagine the depression of imminent death by
      starvation. You come to a new world without food
      and shelter, haven't bathed in three months and are
      wearing the same clothes in which you started your
      voyage. It's December of 1620 and it's snowing, you've
      sent a landing party ashore and stolen corn from some
      very angry Abenaki Indians who would like nothing
      better than to shoot their arrows at you. (Which they
      did!) Didn't the Pilgrims bear in mind the Eighth
      Commandment, "Thou shalt not steal?" Obviously not!
      They left England, seeking religious freedom, or so
      our school children are taught, and immediately broke
      one of God's commandments by stealing food from the
      Indians. How would you handle such fear? By spring,
      half of your fellows are dead.

      The Pilgrims had actually planned for the harsh
      winter of 1620. They sailed from Holland to London
      to Southampton, England, where they boarded the
      Mayflower, bringing along their provisions. There
      was one problem. At this point in their journey,
      they were broke and they could not pay their bills.
      Owing 100 English pounds, they couldn't sail until
      they paid this bill. So they sold some of their
      provisions, a calculated gamble which put them at
      the mercy of diminished resources and divine providence.
      Unfortunately, their resources were inadequate. The
      bet didn't work. Historian William Bradford relates:

      "So they were forced to sell off some of their
      provisions to stop this gap, which was some three
      or four-score firkins of butter, commodity they
      might best spare, having which provided too large a
      quantity of that kind."

      They sold their insurance policy, their food for
      the winter, their butter, and with it the lives of
      half of their number. A letter written on August 3, 1620,
      to the "beloved friends" of these Pilgrims explained:

      "We are in such a strait at present, as we are
      forced to sell away our provisions to clear the haven
      and withal to put ourselves upon great extremities,
      scarce having any butter...we are willing to expose
      ourselves to such eminent dangers as are like to ensue,
      and trust to the good providence of God..."

      They sold the concentrated fat that would have
      helped them to survive in New England. Had they not
      sold this treasure, they would have most certainly
      not starved and suffered the trauma of seeing half
      their number perish. Would a three-day Thanksgiving
      have been called for, the following year? All because
      they sold their butter. How much butter did they
      intend to bring to the New World? Some "three to
      four-score firkins." William Bradford, author of
      "Plymouth Plantation," said that the Pilgrims sold
      approximately 4,040 pounds of butter. That meant that
      every man woman and child was rationed 40 pounds of
      butter. By today's standards, in order to produce those
      4,040 pounds of butter they would have required 85,648
      quarts of milk. A herd of 100 cows, each producing one
      quart of milk per day would have taken nearly eight
      months to produce that much milk. Now, that's a lot
      of churning!

      The Pilgrim diaries reveal the favorite food of
      the native Americans at the first Thanksgiving. Their
      food of choice was "rancid butter." One can only imagine
      the salmonella, E. coli, bovine leukemia, clostridium
      and colonies of paratuberculosis thriving in that
      rancid butter. Indians fell in love with the creamy
      taste of the Pilgrim's butter. They traded furs and
      fish, meat and land for this much desired commodity.
      Were flu-stricken Pilgrims sneezing behind trees in
      the woods responsible for the deaths of one million
      Abenaki and Wampaunoag? Was it perhaps the Native
      American's love for the rancid butter, the gift of
      the bovines? Our day of giving thanks should be
      observed as a day of mourning by Native Americans.

      "I have strong doubts that the first Thanksgiving even
      remotely resembled the 'history' I was told in second
      grade. But considering that (when it comes to holidays)
      mainstream America's traditions tend to be over-eating,
      shopping, or getting drunk, I suppose it's a miracle
      that the concept of giving thanks even surfaces at all." 
      - Ellen Orleans

      Robert Cohen