Plymouth Rock and Pilgrim National Museum In Plymouth, Massachusetts


View looking skyward at Pilgrim Monument
View looking skyward at Pilgrim Monument

Every year as Thanksgiving approaches, more and more people look to Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts as the spot where the holiday tradition finds its roots. Plymouth is a town situated in southern Massachusetts, on Plymouth Bay, approximately 34 miles southeast of Boston. Plymouth was the site of the first European settlement in New England and is now a tourism and shipping/fishing industry. Plymouth was founded on December 16th, 1620, by the Pilgrims. The settlement became part of the seat of Plymouth County in 1633, later a part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1691.

The Pilgrims were a group of English Separatists, who founded the colony of Plymouth in 1620. In the earlier years of the 17th century, a small number of English Puritans broke away from the Church of England and committed themselves to a life centered around the Holy Bible. Many of them were farmers, lacking education, and had little social or political standing within their community. This group left Leiden, made their way to Speedwell, on the first ship. From there the sailed to Southampton, England, joining a second group and boarded the Mayflower. The group landed in Cape Cod and could not settle and from there made the historical journey to Plymouth Rock.

Plymouth Rock has since become an American icon. Representative of overcoming trials and tribulations, discovery, liberty and freedom. Plymouth Rock, weighs in at around 10 tons and is made of granite, and formed some 680 million years ago and transported to west or south Boston, via a glacier. While trying to move the rock, in 1774 with some 40 teams of oxen, the rock was damaged and split.

In 1819, a number of Pilgrims decided to form a historical society to honor past Pilgrims. A building was erected in 1824, and named Pilgrim Hall, it was a place for meetings as well as Pilgrim artifacts. It was the decided that this building would make a more suitable home for the rock, so it was moved in 1834, this is how it acquired its infamous crack when fell off the transport vehicle in front of the Court House.

In 1859, cornerstones of the new Plymouth Rock Canopy and Forefathers Monument were laid, the project was not completed until 1867, it contained only the lower portion rock, along with the remains of Pilgrims believed to have perished during the first winter. On July 4th, 1834, the upper piece of the rock was moved in front of Pilgrim Hall. Thus both pieces of the rock were reunited. At present time, the former Pilgrim Hall is now the home of the Pilgrim National Museum.

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