Instead, Cotton enjoyed alternative facts that rivaled even the most conservative history books. "There seems to be very few commemorations, parades or festivals to celebrate the pilgrims this year," he noted the truth. "
Cotton even had the audacity to add to the mix the New York Times' 1619 project, which stated precisely that "the essence of America is intertwined with slavery and racism". To be fair, Cotton was referring to the project only casually to offer direct criticism of another New York Times piece entitled "The Thanksgiving Myth Is Getting A Deeper Look This Year."
In the piece Writer Brett Anderson stated: "The caricature of friendly Indians handing food, knowledge and land to kind pilgrims has been reinforced over generations through curricula, festivals and children's books."
That part didn't seem to go with Cotton. “Some – too many – may have lost the civilizational confidence that is required to celebrate pilgrims. So just today the New York Times called this story a "myth" and a "caricature" – no less in the grocery department, "Cotton said in his disturbing speech." Perhaps the politically correct editors of the exposed 1619 project are now responsible for pumpkin pie recipes in The Times. "
Nikole Hannah-Jones, who wrote the play and won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for it, tweeted funny in response to Cotton: “It's literally a caricature. And if the 1619 project were in charge of recipes, everyone knows it would be sweet potato pie, not pumpkin pie, @SenTomCotton. "
Others criticized the racist more specifically. Author Frederick Joseph tweeted: "The fact that an openly white supremacist Tom Cottonis a great example of why the party needs new leadership. "Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted," If your sense of history doesn't go beyond your 3rd grade coloring books and the actual story terrifies you. "
Teen Vogue featured six Native American girls in a powerful 2016 video to highlight the real story behind Thanksgiving. In the video, the girls' stories are mixed with footage of them sitting behind a table full of groceries depicting a harvest festival. They ended the video by knocking over the table.
And when you've got it – and I've hardly done it – read Cotton's full speech below:
“A great American anniversary is just around the corner. Four hundred years ago, that Saturday, a battered old ship called the Mayflower arrived in the waters off Cape Cod. The passengers on board the Mayflower are in many ways our first founders. Daniel Webster called them "Our Pilgrim Fathers" on the bicentenary of the occasion. Unfortunately, we haven't heard much about this Mayflower anniversary. I suppose the pilgrims have fallen out of favor in fashionable circles these days. I would therefore like to take a few minutes to reflect on the pilgrimage history and its living legacy for our nation.
As early as 1620, pilgrims were trained to live in a foreign country. They had fled England to Holland twelve years earlier and sought the freedom to practice their faith. But life in Holland was tough, and the Stuart monarchy, which did not tolerate the opposition of the Church of England, gradually expanded its oppressive reach across the Canal. So the pilgrims fled from the old world to the new.
In finding a safe haven for their religion, pilgrims differed from the settlers who preceded them in the previous century, up to and including the Jamestown settlement only thirteen years earlier. As John Quincy Adams put it in a pilgrimage jubilee speech, these former settlers were "all instigated by personal interests", motivated by "avarice and ambition" and "selfish passions". In contrast, pilgrims brave the seas “under the sole inspiration of conscience” and out of a “sense of religious obligation”.
Not to say, everyone aboard the Mayflower felt the same. About half of the 102 passengers were known to the pilgrims as “strangers”. The strangers were artisans, traders, indented servants, and others who were added to the manifest by the ship's financiers for business reasons. The strangers did not share the pilgrims' belief, suffice it to say. Winston Churchill ironically noted in his History of the English-Speaking Peoples that the strangers were "not a select group of saints".
So these were the settlers who boarded the Mayflower, whom Dwight Eisenhower once described as "a ship that no one would try to use in their senses today." One can only imagine the hardships, dangers and doubts they faced while crossing the North Atlantic. The ship leaked chronically. A high beam bowed and cracked. The crossing took longer than expected – more than two months. Food and water (or beer, often the drink of choice) were dangerously low.
But somehow, by the grace of God and the skill of the crew, the Mayflower has finally sighted land. However, the dangers only multiplied. William Bradford, a pilgrim guide whose Of Plymouth Plantation is our primary source for pilgrimage history, recorded these dangers:
They now had no friends to welcome them, nor inns to entertain or refresh their weathered bodies. No houses or much less town to go to for repairs or assistance. And for the time of year it was winter, and those who know the winters of this land know that they are sharp and violent, exposed to cruel and violent storms that are dangerous to travel to familiar places, much more to an unknown coast search. Besides, what could they see but a terrible and desolate wilderness …
And on top of these physical hazards, you can add legal and political hazards. While the Mayflower found land, it was the wrong land. You see, the pilgrim patent was extended to Virginia, but Cape Cod was hundreds of miles to the north. According to Bradford, "some of the strangers" who might want to strike out on their own in search of riches began to make "dissatisfied and mutinous speeches." These strangers claimed that “if they came ashore they would use their own freedom; for no one had the power to command them ”in New England.
Maybe they had a point. But pilgrims and strangers also had a problem: they couldn't survive the "desolate wilderness" on their own. Before landing, they would then work out their differences and form what Bradford humbly called a "combination."
This “combination” is of course known to us and history as the Mayflower Compact. But this little compact – less than two hundred words – wasn't just a "combination". It was America's very first constitution. in fact, in Calvin Coolidge's words, "the first constitution of the modern age".
Churchill also called the Mayflower Compact "one of the most remarkable documents in history, a spontaneous alliance for political organization". Kudos from him, so it is worth thinking a little more about some of the points of the pact.
First, while the pilgrims affirmed their allegiance to England and the monarchy, they left little doubt as to their priorities. The pact begins with their traditional religious invocation: “In the name of God, Amen.” They expressed as the end of their arduous journey to “the glory of God”, the “advancement of the Christian faith” and only then the “honor of our King and Landes ". And similar to the famous promise of the Founding Fathers to one another before “Divine Providence” one hundred and fifty-six years later, the pilgrims made a covenant with one another “solemnly and mutually in the presence of God”.
Second, they respected each other as free and equal citizens. Pilgrims or foreigners alike, the signatories formed a government, regardless of belief or position.
Thirdly, and connected with it, this government would be self-government based on the consent of the governed. The pilgrims anointed no patriarch; They formed a "civil policy" based on "just and equal laws, ordinances, actions, constitutions and offices". And immediately after the pact was signed, they held a democratic election to elect their first governor.
Fourth, the pilgrims, anticipating the declaration again, did not surrender all rights to this government. They promised the new government "all due submission and obedience" – not its "total" or "unquestioning" or "permanent" submission and obedience. This obedience would presumably be “due” as long as the laws remained “just and equal” and the appointed officials performed their duties “just and equal”.
Finally, even in this moment of great privation and danger, the pilgrims turned their gaze upward to the higher, nobler ends of political society. They named their "preservation" as the goal of their new government, but before that came "our better order". The pilgrims understood that freedom, prosperity, faith, and prosperity are only possible with order, and that while security is the government's first responsibility, it is not the government's ultimate or ultimate purpose. This new government would do more than just protect the settlers or resolve their disputes. it would aim at "the common good of the colony".
There, on board that rickety old ship tossed around in the frigid New England waters, the pilgrims foresaw so many cherished concepts of our nation in less than two hundred words. Belief in God and his providential protection. The natural equality of humanity. One of many. Government with consent. The rule of the law. Equality before the law and impartial administration of the law.
No wonder, then, that Adams referred to the Mayflower Compact and the arrival of the pilgrims as "your nation's birthday". Or that Webster said, despite all the settlements outside Plymouth, "the first scene in our history was laid there".
But this story has only just begun. The pilgrims still had to conquer the "desolate wilderness" and build their settlement. Given the challenges, it's a wonder they did. However, as Coolidge noted, the Compact “wasn't the nicest thing about the Mayflower. Best of all, those who worked it out had the power, determination and strength of character to live it from that day on. "
You would need all of this and more to survive what is known as the "starvation period". Upon landing, the pilgrims "fell on their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them across the vast and furious ocean". But it would be a "sad and deplorable" winter of sickness, hunger and death, as half of the settlers died and seldom more than half a dozen had the strength to care for the sick, provide food and shelter and close the camp protect.
As anyone who has survived a New England winter knows, at this rate there may have been no camp left to protect until spring. But what can only be viewed as a providential moment came in March when a lone Indian boldly walked into their camp and greeted them in English. His name was Samoset. He had learned broken English by working with English fishermen in the waters off what is now Maine. Samoset and the pilgrims exchanged gifts and promised to return with another Indian, Squanto, who was fluent in English.
Squanto's tribe had been wiped out by an epidemic a few years earlier. He now lived among the Wampanoag in what is now southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The plague had also weakened the Wampanoags, albeit not neighboring rival tribes. The Wampanoag boss Massasoit therefore had good reasons to forge an alliance with the pilgrims. Squanto introduced him to the settlers and eased their peace and aid treaty, which lasted more than fifty years.
Squanto stayed with the pilgrims and, in Bradford's words, acted as "their interpreter" and "a special instrument sent by God for their good to exceed their expectations". He taught them how to grow indigenous crops such as corn, pumpkin, and beans. He showed them where to fish and hunt. He led them to new destinations by land and sea.
And you probably remember what happened next. As the pilgrims recovered and thrived in 1621, they received the blessing of an abundant autumn harvest. The pilgrims entertained and celebrated Massasoit and the Wampanoags to express their gratitude to their allies and to thank God for His abundant gifts. This meal was of course the first Thanksgiving Day.
Now the Thanksgiving season is just around the corner and we owe a lot again. But this year we should be especially grateful to our ancestors, the pilgrims, on the occasion of their four hundredth anniversary. Their faith, their bravery, their wisdom bring them to the American pantheon. In addition to the Patriots of 1776, the Pilgrims of 1620 deserve the honor of American founders.
Unfortunately, there seems to be few commemorations, parades or festivals this year to celebrate the pilgrims, perhaps also because revisionist charlatans on the radical left recently described the past year as America's true founding. Nothing is further from the truth. The pilgrims and their pact, like the founders and their declaration, form the true foundation of America.
So count me in Coolidge's camp. On that anniversary, a century ago, he declared: “It is our duty, and the duty of every true American, to gather in spirit in the cabin of the Mayflower and rededicate ourselves to the great work of the pilgrims by re-signing the document and affirming has made mankind all the earth more glorious. "
Some – too many – may have lost the civilizational confidence required to celebrate pilgrims. Just today, the New York Times called this story a "myth" and a "caricature" – no less in the grocery department. Perhaps the politically correct editors of the exposed 1619 project are now in charge of pumpkin pie recipes in The Times.
But in any case, I still have the pride and trust of our ancestors, so I speak in the spirit of this cubicle here today and reaffirm this old pact.
At the start of Thanksgiving Week this year, I will especially thank "our Pilgrim Fathers" and the timeless lessons they have left our great nation. Because, as Coolidge noted, “Plymouth Rock marks neither a beginning nor an end. It marks a revelation of what has no beginning and no end. "
May God continue to bless this land and may he bless the memory of the pilgrims of 1620. I wish you and your family all the best for a Thanksgiving that is as happy and peaceful as the first Thanksgiving. "
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