Mr. Handsome and I recently returned from a trip to the East Coast. We spent the first few days in Boston visiting all the major historical sites with Mr. Handsome’s parents and some of his siblings and grandparents. Then we went off on our own and drove up to Quebec City through New Hampshire and back down the Maine coast. I guess you could call the second leg of our trip a “babymoon.” It was a grand adventure!
I love living history, so visiting Plymouth, Massachusetts, was the highlight of our time in Boston. Seeking civil and religious freedom, a group of 102 Puritans (known as the Pilgrims) led by William Bradford left England in September 1620 and arrived in Cape Cod two months later. After signing the Mayflower Compact, they continued on to the site that would become known as Plymouth, marked by Plymouth Rock.
The rock was much smaller than I had always imagined it. When we saw it, my father-in-law remarked, “No wonder the Pilgrims knew that this was the spot to land–they just had to find the rock with the correct year on it.”
The rock is located in the harbor, near the Plymouth settlement. The original houses are no longer standing, but plaques mark their locations.
In their place are homes built in the 1700s, which we enjoyed admiring as we walked down the quaint street.
This one was built in 1734 by Nathaniel Leonard, pastor of the First Church from 1724-1756.
And this beautiful red home, built in 1752, was owned by the Jackson, Whitfield, and Russell families.
The history of Plymouth is especially interesting to me because of my family’s heritage. On my father’s side, I am a descendant of Reverend John Lothrop (or Lathrop), an English pastor who separated from the Church of England and brought his family and congregation to Plymouth in 1634, aboard the Griffin. He helped found a colony in Barnstable, Massachusetts, and was a key supporter of Separation of Church and State, an ideal that would allow citizens to freely practice their religion without government oppression.
We also visited the nearby National Monument to the Forefathers, which towers 81 feet tall and is the largest granite monument in the United States. Built in 1889, it provides a visual representation of the reasons why the Pilgrims came to the New World and showcases the principles that became the building blocks of the United States of America. The woman at the top is Faith because the forefathers knew that freedom was founded upon faith in God. Faith’s hand is pointing up to God Almighty, and she is holding the Bible, which was very precious to the Pilgrims.
Below Faith are four sculptures–Morality, Law, Education, and Liberty–that show how faith is lived out.
Morality: The Pilgrims believed that genuine faith would transform human hearts and result in true morality. They did not believe in using oppression to force others to adopt their faith. (That was what they were fleeing!) The woman representing morality is holding the 10 Commandments and the scroll of Revelation because the standards of morality are found within the Bible.
Law: The standard of morality provides a foundation for creating laws of the land. Laws must be just towards all, but lawmakers must also be merciful (symbolized by two smaller sculptures labeled Justice and Mercy).
Education: Once laws were made, the Pilgrims prioritized educating the youth so they could become wise, intelligent, and productive individuals who followed the laws of God and man.
Liberty: The final statue symbolizes the result of faith, morality, law, and education. The Liberty sculpture is a strong (not passive) man with broken chains on his wrists and ankles because he is free from Tyranny (a smaller statue below Liberty). Also below Liberty is a statue labeled Peace.
For a more detailed explanation of the National Monument to the Forefathers, check out Kirk Cameron’s film Monumental.