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Free Enterprise in the New World

Free Enterprise in the New World

Free enterprise has been a channel for God’s blessing in the early days of our nation while still a British colony into the first centuries of nationhood. Let’s see how free market economics helped to make America great. 

The British, French, and Dutch governments did not pay for settlements in the New World. Companies paid the expense. Financiers made deals with folks who wanted to start a new life in the colonies. Settlers founded family farms and businesses that thrived and prospered. 

Some people, desperate for new opportunities, indentured themselves as servants for a few years to cover the cost of the trip. After their time of service was over, the were free to work and prosper.  

Pilgrims

The pilgrims not only inspire our modern Thanksgiving Feast, but the lessons they learned about free enterprise still have wisdom for us in the 21st century. 

The pilgrims made their way to the New World so they could enjoy religious freedom. Getting to North America cost money. They sold their homes to raise money, but still came up short. Financier provided money for the voyage as an investment. The pilgrims would work for seven years. At that point, everything would be liquidated and divided between the financiers and the pilgrims. 

Since they were working to pay off their debt, they decided to all work together on common land. This was a disaster! Soon, industrious workers realized they were doing more work than the lazier brethren. There was little motivation to work! Instead, the leaders assigned each man a parcel of land. The output tripled! 

When the contract ended in 1627, the Pilgrims could begin building their farms and businesses for their families and they prospered even more. 

A Church, A Mill, A Blacksmith

It is said that early towns in the New World needed a church, a mill, and a blacksmith. 

The Pilgrims set to work right away to build a meeting house (church) and homes. A year later they had a blacksmith. William Bassett, who was left behind the year before, arrived in 1621. He was the first blacksmith in the colony of Plymouth and much needed! 

After grinding corn by hand for more than a decade, John Jenney built a water-powered mill on Town Brook. Two giant stone wheels ground the corn into cornmeal. The millstones were powered by water via a 14-foot waterwheel. Now they had everything they needed. The little colony grew and prospered. 

Further up the coast the first sawmill opened in present-day Maine on the Piscataqua River. The colonists started a logging industry, shipping lumber back to England. A year later, the first water-powered sawmill opened. 

Massachusetts Bay Colony

The folks heading to present-day Boston were shrewd. In an attempt to not answer to a company back in England, the settlers bought up the stock in the company paying for the settlers. Since colonists were accountable to the stockholders of a company, now the Massachusetts Bay Colony folks were accountable to one another. 

In Massachusetts Bay Colony, the settlers did not find the fertile land that existed in the middle and southern colonies. The rocky soil made farming difficult. Instead of crops, many farmers raised livestock. Some farms bred horses. 

Other men made a living in the fishing, timber, or shipping industries. 

The Atlantic Ocean, filled with an abundance of cod, mackerel, herring, halibut, and bass, was the perfect location for fishing. Fishermen sold their fish to merchants who exported the fish. Whaling was another huge industry. Folks used whale oil for lamps and soaps. Though dangerous, whaling was a very profitable industry for brave hearty souls. 

The lush New England forests were soon the location of a growing timber industry. Lumberjacks chopped down oak, maple, beech, birch, hickory, and ash trees for their beautiful wood. Most wood was exported to Europe while some was sold to ship builders and furniture makers. Soon there were thousands of sawmills in New England.

Ship building was big business in Massachusetts Bay Colony and later throughout New England. Fishermen and whalers need boats. Merchants needed ships to transport goods from ports in the New World to European and Caribbean ports. International trade required ships! Ship building required carpenters, joiners, sail makers, barrel makers, painters, and blacksmiths so it employed many men. 

The residents of Massachusetts Bay Colony were not just surviving financially, they were thriving and sending the fruits of their labor across the world! The colonists of New England were prospering!

Free Enterprise

Hard work and a free enterprise system caused colonists to thrive and prosper in the New World. Free enterprise, a system where businesses and farms are owned by individuals, not the government, and where the economy operates with little government regulation, was the perfect environment for success. 

The settlers in the New World enjoyed the freedom to buy, the freedom to sell, the freedom to try, the freedom to fail. The took risks and experienced failure. They took personal responsibility for their failures, as well as their successes. Free enterprise helped to cultivate a love of freedom which meshed well with the Puritan work ethic. 

Along with the Puritan ethic of industriousness, the free enterprise system can be credited with America’s prosperity. People are willing to take a risk to be financially independent by starting their own businesses or farming. 

In a free market, consumers “vote” for the products of their choice by purchasing those products. This causes quality items to sell at higher rates than poor quality ones. Early America was known for quality workmanship and goods. 

Wealth of the Nations

Ironically, the year the Declaration of Independence was signed, Adam Smith’s Wealth of the Nations, the premier book on free-market capitalism, was published. Our Founding Fathers read and agreed with Smith’s philosophy of economics. 

The king of England believed in mercantilism where the government dictates how citizens can spend their money using tariffs and taxes. When colonists were forced to purchase certain items only from England, they were outraged! Being so far away, they had not only enjoyed religious freedom, but economic freedom as well. 

Free enterprise opens the door for new ideas. Creative individuals invent and try out new ideas because they have the freedom to do so. Maybe that’s why the USA is the most innovative nation on earth! 

If your teen needs a high school economic credit, I want to recommend True North Homeschool Academy’s Economics course, a spring semester course. This course teaches Free Enterprise-style economics in a practical, hands-on way. Check it out HERE

And this Thanksgiving, as you are thanking the Lord for all your blessings, remember the early settlers of our great nation, and thank God for the economic freedom they enjoyed and built into the fabric of our great nation. 


Meredith Curtis

Meredith Curtis is a writer, speaker, and curriculum creator with Powerline Productions and teaches courses like Who Dun It, at True North Homeschool Academy. A veteran homeschooler, she is mom to five and “Grandy-Merey” to five so far. As a pastor’s wife, worship leader, and teacher she loves to give young people the gift of classic books and a Christian education to see lives changed for the glory of God.

The Penny Challenge – An Easy Way to Stay Thankful This Season

The Penny Challenge – An Easy Way to Stay Thankful This Season

As Thanksgiving approaches followed closely by Christmas, life can get a bit… hectic! This week’s life skill tip is all about simply being thankful! Haven’t heard of The Penny Challenge? Stay tuned for this fun and simple way to instill thankfulness!

Ralph Waldo Emerson said,

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

As my household, we could use this reminder as well.

A pile of bright pennies.

So, we are doing a penny challenge.

Each of us are being given some pennies to hide around the house. Over the next week or two, as we find them, we are to think of something we are thankful for that has happened on that day. Then the finder of the penny gets to keep the penny. It might be simple, but sometimes a simple token; like a penny, can remind us to pause and be thankful for our many blessings!

Raising Thankful Kids

We want to create teens that are thankful in season and out of season. It might be the key to helping them push through that hard time. And look, we know hard times will come; it’s the nature of life! Counting his blessings made all the difference for Willie Nelson,

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”

Even better the BIBLE says it!

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

A homeschool mom holds lemons to her eyes with a smile.

Sure, life is going to throw you lemons, but if you can see that those lemons are helping you become who you were meant to be not only will you be more pleasant to be around as you go through that season, you will also be on the lookout for ways to make that lemon work in your favor.

If your kids love gamifying learning -and which one doesn’t, be sure to check out Classical Memory classes as well as Personal Finance. Both classes, along with many others at True North Homeschool Academy are specifically designed to make learning FUN, with interactive, dynamic games, challenges and great discussions!

Your Family Can Change History

Your Family Can Change History

Can your family make a difference in the confusing times we are living in?

Let’s meet Corrie and her family who lived during some significant changes. This Dutch family loved the Lord and lived a simple life going to church and running their own business. Their home was filled with love and laughter. Guests frequented the little home behind the watch shop.

Almost a century earlier, in 1844, Corrie’s grandfather, Willem was approached by a Messianic Jewish pastor who asked Willem to start a weekly prayer meeting for the Jewish people. That was strange because back then there was no nation of Israel, and the Jews were scattered throughout the world. Nonetheless, Willem began weekly prayer meetings for the Jewish people that continued for exactly 100 years.

Corrie’s parents, Casper and Cor had moved to a Jewish neighborhood in Amsterdam for a short while early in their marriage made good friends and enjoyed joining in many Jewish festivities. Casper also spend lots of time sharing passages of Scripture in the Old Testament such as Isaiah 53 that Casper believed were fulfilled in Christ. 

When Corrie’s grandfather died, her father Casper brought his family back to Haarlem and took the helm of the weekly prayer meeting.

Corrie and her sister Betsy never married and remained at home with their widowed father Casper. Corrie started clubs for girls where she taught them crafts and shared the Gospel.

War Breaks Out!

Abruptly, everything changed when invaders from nearby Germany conquered and began to rule the peaceful nation. The goose-step marching sent shivers down their spines when they saw the Nazis marching down the street. People began to disappear; never to be seen again. Their Jewish friends were taken away to concentration camps. It felt like darkness had descended on the land.

When Germany invaded Holland during World War II, Corrie, Betsy, Casper, and the rest of the ten Boom clan, joined the resistance. They housed Jewish people who were fleeing for their lives, until they could find another place to hide out in the country nearby.

Even so, love and laughter continued to fill the little home. Their Jewish visitors might tell stories or play the family piano. When there was danger, the guests had to escape quickly to the hiding place. They worked hard to get the drill down to 70 seconds. They also had to get rid of any evidence of their presence such as a teacup or extra hand of cards.

The hiding place was a tiny secret room. The thick walls of the hiding place were built below the floor so the Nazis wouldn’t find it with a secret entrance through a linen closet. This little family saved the lives of many Jewish people.

When Casper was warned of the danger of hiding Jewish people, imprisonment and death, Casper declared that he felt it a great privilege to give his life to save God’s Chosen People.” Corrie and Betsy shared his heart. 

Clash of World Views

The ten Booms faced a collision of worldviews. Hitler led Germany with a wicked philosophy doing everything in his power to make the Jewish people and every other “undesirable” feel debased, humiliated, and hopeless. But he could not overcome love, forgiveness, and mercy, that flow from the heart of God. Corrie and her family recognized the value and dignity of every life, especially the lives of those so precious to our Father God. When worldviews collide, God’s love always wins.

The night of the final raid came on an evening when Corrie was very sick. Betsy answered the door. Though suspicious of the Dutch traitor, she gave him help anyway. He brought back the Gestapo, who arrested all three ten Booms, but those in the hiding place were not found. The soldiers chopped, hacked, and destroyed, but the little hiding place worked! Two days later, members of the resistance were able to get the five people out of the cramped little space and they all escaped to freedom.

The final raid came 100 years to the day that the Willem ten Boom held his first prayer meeting. Coincidence? I don’t think so. This family was in the center of God’s will, though it was not an easy place.

Lone Survivor

Corrie alone survived the concentration camp, being let out due to an administrative error. She and her family made a conscious decision to forgive. Even the traitors that reported them were both written a letter from the family expressing forgiveness and the love of Christ. Corrie spent the rest of her life sharing her testimony and helping people learn to forgive.

The ten Boom family paid a huge price to resist evil. Yet, because of their heart to obey God rather than man, they saved lives. After the war, Corrie ministered to thousands of bitter souls who learned to forgive from her example.

Glamorous? No. They were just a normal Christian family. Just an ordinary family who trusted God. A family that obeys God can change history. Because of families like the ten Boom, enough Jews survived to make it to the Holy Land and usher in the birth of Israel in 1948.

Don’t underestimate what God can do with your family.

Your family can speak wisdom into the lives of those who are confused and frightened. Your family can teach timeless truths that many Americans have forgotten.

Even if your family is just a place where visitors find love and laughter, think how many lives can be changed by that! You may think you don’t have a perfect family, but your family may be the best example of Christ that anyone has ever seen.

True North Homeschool Academy Family learning together

Resources that Help Your Kids Make a Difference

All our online classes and other resources are designed to support your family and help your kids strengthen their faith. Our podcast, Softskills 101: Life Skills for a Digital Age, provides encouragement and information that will help you homeschool. High school students can learn more about how to defend their faith with our Introduction to Apologetics Course. This is a class students can join for a full year, or for just one semester- we hope you check out the other courses and resources on the website for parents and K-12 homeschooled students.

Meredith Curtis

Meredith Curtis is a writer, speaker, and curriculum creator with Powerline Productions and teaches courses like Who Dun It, at True North Homeschool Academy. A veteran homeschooler, she is mom to five and “Grandy-Merey” to five so far. As a pastor’s wife, worship leader, and teacher she loves to give young people the gift of classic books and a Christian education to see lives changed for the glory of God.