Of Plymouth Plantation

Topics: Property, Property law, Capitalism Pages: 2 (712 words) Published: August 3, 2012
Response Essay One
William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation gives a first-hand account of many of the various factors at play which ultimately led to the Separatist movement and their subsequent decision to leave their European confines for the freedom of the New World, to start afresh in “those vast and unpeopled countries of America,” Bradford writes. His narrative thus spans the years from the birth of the Separatist movement in 1607 to well into the settlement of Plymouth (1647). At length, Bradford describes the condition of this foreign land and the hardships the colonists endured as they endeavored to eke out an existence “on their own terms.” Their experiment came at a price, however. As none of the colonists possessed the means to fund their expedition, merchant investor backing was sought and secured. And to ensure that the investors recouped their monies they insisted that the foundation of the colony be based upon a communal property system. But as happens in communes and tribes, certain serious and intractable problems arise. It becomes costly to police the activities of the members, all of whom are entitled to their share of the total product of the community, whether they work or not. Any surplus or profit from this system was demanded by the merchant investors as payment on the debt owed by the colonists. The system bred ill-will and seething discontent among the colonists, many of whom had become resentful at the present state and ceased working all together. And by spring of 1623, the colonists were beginning to starve. Seeing this, the Governor brought an end to the “Common Course and Condition,” and thus began a system of private property ownership. In Bradford’s notes for Of Plymouth Plantation, he draws the parallel between the Pilgrim’s communal system of property rights and those espoused by Plato in his Republic. “The experience that was had in this common course and condition…may well evince the vanity of that conceit of...
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