It’s American Thanksgiving Day once again. I was thinking about the holiday in terms of current events and the ongoing Occupy Movements.
Although the early Plymouth colonists were a different cut of nonconformist than the peace churches of Pennsylvania that I wrote about yesterday, still they were a group on the “outside” of England. So, in a sense, they needed some real estate to camp out on and work to build a following. That the land belonged to the Indians is an inconvenient fact of history. Unlike colonists that are recorded to have paid, at least something, for the land they settled, it sounds like the Puritans just set up a tent city, and didn’t pay the natives anything.
Here is the cover of the latest New Yorker magazine, which is causing a little controversy and quite a few giggles. It used to be that it was readily acknowledged that the Indians were here and the European settlers showed up, without much more of a claim than that some king or queen abroad said that they had a right to the land. I mean, if you trace anyone’s land title back–especially here in southeastern Pennsylvania–you find that the chain goes back to William Penn, and that he got it from one of the Charles kings of England. So I don’t see why the notion is so controversial, among so-called conservatives, when it’s brought up nowadays. Almost like they want to be called stupid people instead of conservatives.
What grates the prideful American, though, is what is missing from the cover: the 400 years in which the people who came to these shores BUILT something. I see that is what has some folks upset, and it’s a point well taken. The pilgrims didn’t sneak into someone else’s well-established, first world country. They staked out in barren wilderness.
I liked what one of my old finance or accounting books had as a foreword. It mentioned the power of compounding in terms of what the Dutch offered to pay the Manhattan Indians for the lower tip of New York City: $24, in 1626. If you took $24 and invested it at 8%, over 385 years, you’d have 24 times 7.3815 times 10 to the twelfth, or 177 trillion dollars. Even at 6%, $132.7 billion dollars. The example wasn’t to show whether the course of history was fair or not to native people in the European Encounter, but simply that there is a time value to resources. There is a certain sweat equity that the original settlers put into America, and that later generations contributed to. Having a small investment sooner, allows it time to grow.
So many different ways to look at New World migration! I hope you had a pleasant Thanksgiving Day, and remembered people and things to be thankful for.