"Plymouth Rock" has since become an American icon as a symbol of discovery and liberty. A quest for religious freedom and pursuit of a better life. It cannot be verified that the rock that exists today is actually the rock that the Pilgrims stepped onto, or if they stepped onto such a rock at all. Yet tradition has firmly held through verbal transmission that the large piece of granite provided a steady landing for the sojourners, as sure as their convictions.
One Thomas Faunce was the son of John, who came to Plymouth in the Ann in 1623. John was considered one of the "First Comers"along with the original Mayflower passengers and raised his son, Thomas, contemporaneously with other second generation settlers. From his childhood, Thomas was told by his father and others about coming to America including the report about the rock. Thomas, who became the last elder of the First Church of Plymouth, brought his own children and grandchildren there to continue transmitting the story on each anniversary of the Pilgrim's landing.
Then in 1741 a wharf was to be built over the rock and 95 year old Elder Faunce was taken by chair to see the rock for one last time. At Founder's Day in 1817 a Mrs. White and Deacon Spoon transmitted their testimony that Elder Faunce had publicly proclaimed the history of the consecrated rock with tear filled eyes.
In 1775 inhabitants of the town decided to consecrate the rock as a shrine of liberty. Twenty yoke of oxen attempted to move it only to have it split in two when a team attempted to raise it. The upper portion, however, was placed at the foot of the Liberty Pole as a reminder of the values that first brought the Pilgrims to their beloved country.
|Piece of Plymouth Rock taken by Lewis Bradford.|
|Plymouth Rock in 1867|
"We have come to this Rock, to record here our homage for our Pilgrim Fathers; our sympathy in their sufferings; our gratitude for their labours; our admiration of their virtues; our veneration for their piety; and our attachment to those principles of civil and religious liberty, which they encountered the dangers of the ocean, the storms of heaven, the violence of savages, disease, exile, and famine, to enjoy and establish. – And we would leave here, also, for the generations which are rising up rapidly to fill our places, some proof, that we have endeavored to transmit the great inheritance unimpaired; that in our estimate of public principles, and private virtue; in our veneration of religion and piety; in our devotion to civil and religious liberty; in our regard to whatever advances human knowledge, or improves human happiness, we are not altogether unworthy of our origin…" ~ Daniel Webster, 1820
|Plymouth Rock's current enclosure.|