So, what were they thinking?
The Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, Massachusetts was built between 1907 and 1910 to commemorate the first landfall of the Pilgrims in 1620 and the signing in Provincetown Harbor of the Mayflower Compact. This 252-foot (76,80 m) tall campanile is the tallest all-granite structure in the United States, and is part of the Provincetown historic district.
In 1620, the Pilgrims spent five weeks exploring Cape Cod before they sailed to Plymouth, MA. After spending weeks at sea, the pilgrims resolved not to set foot on land until the Mayflower Compact was written and signed. The Mayflower Compact is the first instance of a democratic society in the New World.
A contest was held to design a structure to commemorate the Pilgrims’ landing; the winning design, by Willard T. Sears, was based upon the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy, designed by Agostino and Agnolo da Siena in 1309. In 1907 the cornerstone for the monument was laid by President Theodore Roosevelt.
The design was controversial because of its lack of any obvious relevance to the Pilgrim Fathers. One Boston architect derided it, saying “If all they want is an architectural curiosity, then why not select the Leaning Tower of Pisa and be done with it?” It was also noted that Boston itself already had a copy of the same tower; Boston’s tower, made of brick like the Italian original, was built in 1892 by Edmund March Wheelwright, is 156 feet tall, was originally designed as part of the central fire station and used as a fire lookout, and later became part of the Pine Street Inn, a shelter for Boston’s homeless.
However, the Boston Globe noted that “The people of Provincetown are not at all enthusiastic about the design, but are glad enough to get almost any sort of monument,” and quoted “an old sea captain” as saying: “I don’t sympathize with all the kicking about the monument. It’s good enough, and it has this in its favor, that it resembles many lighthouses on the coast of Portugal and on Portuguese Islands, and Provincetown, you know, is full of Portuguese.”
The Battle of Lexington and Concord was the initial conflict in the American Revolutionary War. On April 19, 1775, a force of British Army regulars marched from Boston to Concord (pausing for an early-morning skirmish at Lexington, where the first shots of the Battle were fired) to capture a cache of arms that was reportedly stored in the town. Forewarned of the British troop movements, colonists from Concord and surrounding towns repulsed a British detachment at the Old North Bridge and forced the British troops to retreat. The battle was initially publicized by the colonists as an example of British brutality and aggression: one colonial broadside decried the “Bloody Butchery of the British Troops.” A century later, however, the conflict was remembered proudly by Americans, taking on a patriotic, almost mythic status in works like the “Concord Hymn” and “Paul Revere’s Ride.” In April 1975, the town hosted a bicentennial celebration of the battle, featuring an address at the Old North Bridge by President Gerald Ford.
We arrived here at the same time as a busload of geriatrics on a conducted tour. They were happy enough to saunter the beautiful reserve that surrounded these monuments. Soon after, a small contingent of Army reservists in camo arrived. Their desert gear stood out within the dark piney verdure. I hope these young soldiers were not entirely unaware that many Afghans perceived them to be Redcoats.
Thoreau was a great writer, philosopher, poet, and withal a most practical man, that is, he taught nothing he was not prepared to practice in himself. He was one of the greatest and most moral men America has produced. At the time of the abolition of slavery movement, he wrote his famous essay “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”. He went to gaol for the sake of his principles and suffering humanity. His essay has, therefore, been sanctified by suffering. Moreover, it is written for all time. Its incisive logic is unanswerable.
—Gandhi, “For Passive Resisters” (1907)