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Of Plymouth Plantation

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William Bradford in "Of Plymouth Colony" pp 96-97

"All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop then they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with ye advise of ye chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in ye general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance), and ranged all boys & youth under some family. This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted then otherwise would have been by any means ye Govr or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into ye field, and took their little ones with them to set corn, which before would allege weakness, and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.

The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato's & other ancients, applauded by some of later times;—that ye taking away of property, and bringing in community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser then God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion & discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For ye young-men that were most able and fit for labor & service did repine that they should spend their time & strength to work for other men's wives and children, without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals & clothes, then he that was weak and not able to do a quarter ye other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labors, and victuals, clothes, etc., with ye meaner & younger sort, thought it some indignity & disrespect unto them. And for men's wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it. Upon ye point all being to have alike, and all to doe alike, they thought them selves in ye like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut of those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take of ye mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have been worse if they had been men of another condition. Let none object this is men's corruption, and nothing to ye course it self. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in his wisdom saw another course fitter for them."

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