Similar to the English legend of Robin Hood, the character Johnny Appleseed has evolved over time into a progressive icon. In the former, the famed outlaw, made an enemy of the government by reclaiming unjust taxes, became a socialist folklore hero who ‘stole from the rich and gave to the poor.’ Johnny Appleseed, an American legend, is depicted as a selfless peripatetic, traveling the country planting apple trees so that nobody would go hungry. He lived an ascetic lifestyle, preached the gospel of Jesus Christ, and refused to hurt any of God’s creatures (one apocryphal tale claims that he angrily threw away his shoe out of guilt for having accidently stepped on a worm).
Some of these fabled characteristics are based in truth. Johnny Appleseed did live well below his financial means, for example, giving people the false impression that he was a poor man. But Johnny Appleseed’s true accomplishments – the successful accumulation of wealth through entrepreneurial speculation and calculated claims to the private property he developed with his apple seeds – have been entirely omitted from the legends taught to schoolchildren. Accurately told, the life of Johnny Appleseed is a capitalist success story.
Johnny Appleseed Brings Alcohol to the Frontier
The legend of Robin Hood was a fiction born out of a different fiction, but the legend of Johnny Appleseed is a fiction born out of a real person. John Chapman was born on September 26, 1774, the son of a Revolutionary War veteran who would later encourage his son to become an orchardist.
This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on Sept 17, 2017.