Once again it was raining. We convoyed to Plymouth to see and hear about The National Monument to the Forefathers:
This thing is huge. Not Statue of Liberty huge, but impressive, none the less… It is 81′ tall.
The original concept dates to around 1820, with actual planning beginning in 1850. The cornerstone was laid August 2, 1859 and the monument was completed in October 1888. It was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies on August 1, 1889.
Our guide, in Pilgrim garb, explained the monument:
He was a little preachy, and it was hard to tell when he was talking as a Pilgrim and when he was talking about today. But the Monument has a lot to say.
On the main pedestal stands the heroic figure of “Faith”, with her right hand pointing toward heaven and her left hand clutching the Bible. Upon the four buttresses also are seated figures emblematic of the principles upon which the Pilgrims founded their Commonwealth; counter-clockwise from the east are Morality, Law, Education, and Liberty. Each was carved from a solid block of granite, posed in the sitting position upon chairs with a high relief on either side of minor characteristics. Under “Morality” stand “Prophet” and “Evangelist”; under “Law” stand “Justice” and “Mercy”; under “Education” are “Youth” and “Wisdom”; and under “Liberty” stand “Tyranny Overthrown” and “Peace”. On the face of the buttresses, beneath these figures are high reliefs in marble, representing scenes from Pilgrim history. Under “Morality” is “Embarcation”; under “Law” is “Treaty”; under “Education” is “Compact”; and under “Freedom” is “Landing”. Upon the four faces of the main pedestal are large panels for records. The front panel is inscribed as follows: “National Monument to the Forefathers. Erected by a grateful people in remembrance of their labors, sacrifices and sufferings for the cause of civil and religious liberty.” The right and left panels contain the names of those who came over in the Mayflower, including distant relatives of Irvine’s own Kirk Winslow. The rear panel, which was not engraved until recently, contains a quote from Governor William Bradford’s famous history, Of Plymouth Plantation:
- “Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing and gives being to all things that are; and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehovah have all praise.”
The overall scheme was designed by architect Hammatt Billings.
After we learned everything and more about the Monument, we walked down to see a recreation of a 17th century grist mill. It is a fully functioning mill, and it operates on the weekends, and it sells its flour to the public.
The water wheel:
The millstones – 2,500 lbs each:
The two millstones are apart for display purposes. When the mill is operating, the one that you see vertical is turned and set atop the lower stone. The upper stone is fixed in place, and the lower stone is turned by the power of the water wheel and the gears below the floor:
These wheels and gears are the heart of the mill. It is a fascinating operation and display of the incredible power water and simple tools have. The first public grist mill was built about 10 years after the Pilgrims arrived – before that, all grain had to be ground by hand… not an enjoyable time…
After our time at the grist mill we went to lunch at a local pub. Unlike the early Pilgrims, an enjoyable time was had by all…