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June 25th, 2022

Insight

A student debt bailout would be unjust

Jeff Jacoby

By Jeff Jacoby

Published Nov. 24, 2020

A student debt bailout would be unjust


Most Americans know the rudiments of the Thanksgiving story: How the Pilgrims suffered through that first year in the place they called Plymouth. How food and shelter were so inadequate during the bitter winter of 1620-21 that most of the small company grew sick and half its members died. How the survivors struggled to get the seeds they had brought from Europe to grow in the stony Massachusetts soil and how they might have starved if kindly Indians hadn't taught them to plant corn. How they were grateful for the first small harvest they managed in the summer of 1621, and for the abundance of fish and game with which they were able to supplement it.

It was to celebrate that initial harvest that Governor William Bradford authorized a community feast and invited the neighboring Indians — the Wampanoag sachem Massasoit and about 90 of his warriors — to “rejoice together” over venison and wild fowl. “All had their hungry bellies filled,” Bradford would later write in Of Plymouth Plantation. Today we look back to that harvest feast of 1621 as the first American Thanksgiving.

But 1621 wasn't a turning point and the celebrants at that “first Thanksgiving” didn't celebrate for long. Bellies were soon empty again. Plymouth Plantation was failing — and not because of bad weather or stony soil.