Memory's Nation: The Place of Plymouth Rock

Memory's Nation: The Place of Plymouth Rock

ISBN: 0807824151

ISBN 13: 9780807824153

Publication Date: November 16, 1998

Publisher: University of North Carolina Press

Pages: 720

Format: Hardcover

Author: John Seelye

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Long celebrated as a symbol of the country's origins, Plymouth Rock no longer receives much national attention. In fact, historians now generally agree that the Pilgrims' storied landing on the Rock never actually took place - the tradition having emerged more than a century after the arrival of the Mayflower. In Memory's Nation, however, John Seelye is not interested in the factual truth of the landing. He argues that what truly gives Plymouth Rock its significance is more than two centuries of oratorical, literary, and artistic celebrations of the Pilgrims' arrival. Drawing on a wealth of speeches, paintings, and popular illustrations, Seelye demonstrates how Plymouth Rock changed in meaning over the years, beginning as a symbol of freedom evoked in patriotic sermons at the start of the Revolution and eventually becoming a symbol of exclusion during the 1920s. In a concluding chapter, Seelye notes the continuing popularity of Plymouth Rock as a tourist attraction, affirming that, at least in New England, the Pilgrim advent still has meaning. But as he demonstrates throughout the book, the Rock was from the beginning a regional symbol, associated with New England's attempts to assert its importance as the starting point for what became the American Republic.

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