National Monument to the Forefathers, 1863, Design Overview

The design for the National Monument to the Forefathers, to be erected at Plymouth, consists of an octagon pedestal, on which stands a statue of Faith. From the four smaller faces of the pedestal project buttresses, upon which are seated figures emblematic of Morality, Education, Law, and Liberty. Below them, in panels, are alto-reliefs of " The Departure from Delfthaven," " The Signing of the Social Compact in the Cabin of the May Flower," " The Landing at Plymouth," and " The First Treaty with the Indians." Upon the four large faces of the main pedestal are large panels, to contain records of the principal events in the history of the Pilgrims, with the names of those who came over in the May Flower, and below are smaller panels for records connected with the society and the building of the monument,

Image of National Monument to the Forefathers

A chamber within the pedestal, 26 feet in diameter, and well lighted, is to be a depository for all documents, &c., relating to the pilgrims and the society, including an accurate record of the receipts and expenditures for the monument, and a list of the names of subscribers of $1 and over, arranged by states, counties, and towns, and alphabetically, so as to be easily referred to. In this chamber will be a stairway leading to the platform upon which stands the figure of Faith, from which may be seen all the places of interest connected with the history of the forefathers. The whole monument will be about 150 feet high, and 80 feet at the base. The Statue of Faith rests her foot upon the Forefather's Rock; in her left hand she , holds an open Bible; with the right uplifted she points to

heaven. Looking downward, as to those she is addressing, she seems to call them to trust in a higher power. The sitting figures are emblematic of the principles upon which the Pilgrims proposed to found their Commonwealth. The first of these is Morality. She holds the Decalogue in her left, and the Scroll of Revelation in her right hand. Her look is upward, towards the impersonation of the Spirit of Religion above. In a niche, on one side of her throne, is a Prophet, and in the other, one of the Evangelists. The second of these figures is Law. On one side of his seat is Justice; on the other, Mercy. The third is Education. In the niche on one side of her seat, is Wisdom, ripe with years; on the other, Youth, led by Experience. The fourth figure is Freedom. On one side, Peace rests under his protection; on the other, Tyranny is overthrown by his prowess.

The Statue of Faith will be 70 feet high, and the sitting figures 38 feet high, — thus making it in magnitude the greatest work of the kind in the world; while as a work of art, it will afford pleasure to every American citizen.

The Pilgrim Society decided, in 1850, to erect a monument, after which and previous to the final acceptance of this design, the trustees had taken measures to secure a subscription, — and something more than twenty thousand dollars were subscribed; a considerable portion of which has been collected, and appropriated to the purchase of the estates in the immediate vicinity of the Rock, and upon Cole's Hill, — which it is proposed to clear up, grade, and finish in an appropriate manner. And over the Rock itself, to mark the spot of landing, and stand as a permanent record and guard, is to be placed a Canopy of granite, under which the Rock, which has for about a century been hidden beneath the roadway of a wharf, will be visible to all future pilgrims, and beyond the reach of those who would injure it with sacrilegious hands.

The Monument enterprise is conducted in the most economical manner. Collecting agents are paid, in all cases, by commission; if, therefore, they make no collections, they receive no compensation; and all receipts have been employed in the purchase of estates and lands in Plymouth, in preparing models and materials necessary to the prosecution of the work, and in advancing it to its present stage.

Persons desiring to do so, can have access at the office to the books in which is kept an accurate account of all receipts and expenditures of every kind connected with the work. It may however be stated in general, in this connection, that the whole amount subscribed is a little over $50,000, of which the sum of about $18,000 remains uncollected.

In regard to the expense, to which some have objected, it may be proper to remark that it includes what is given back to subscribers in the form of engravings and statuettes. If the subscriber chooses not to take any thing in return, then he gives directly, and so much the more as the articles cost. Let every one do something, whatever he can afford; every little helps.

Statues, monuments, memorial structures, etc., to the amount of about $1,800,000, are already in existence, or in progress, in honor of Washington, a single individual; but not the first monumental structure has yet been erected to the memory and in honor of the Pilgrims,— the Founders of our civil and religious liberty.

In view of what has already been accomplished, the completion of the work can be regarded as only a question of time; for there cannot be a doubt in the minds of any who know this people and measure to the depths the extent of their loyalty to the principles of the Pilgrim Fathers, shown to its full strength only in times of great trial, that this work, so auspiciously commenced, will bo carried onward with energy to a successful termination.

It will not be improper to add in this connection that hesitation in regard to their subscriptions on the part of its friends, and delay in their payment, necessarily prolong the time and increase the expense.

1. "The Pilgrim Society, and The National Monument to the Forefathers," The Illustrated Pilgrim Memorial, 1863, page 39.

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