Today, I would like to talk about a little known monument hidden away in a subdivision in Plymouth, MA where the Pilgrims first landed in America. The monument is known as the National Monument to the Forefathers, but it is also known as the Matrix of Liberty.
The monument was Designed in 1853 and dedicated on Aug. 1, 1889.
The monument was paid for by the U.S. Congress and the State Legislature of MA.
It is the largest granite monument in America and most of us have no idea that it exists. I know that my wife and I didn’t when we visited Plymouth, MA several years ago. We saw a replica of the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock, but did not have a clue that this monument even existed.
Ironically, the monument was established as a reminder for how liberty was built in America should we ever lose our way. On it resides the following inscription:
“NATIONAL MONUMENT OT THE FOREFATHERS BY A GREATFUL PEOPLE IN REMEMBERANCE OF THEIR LABORS, SACRIFICES AND SUFFERINGS FOR THE CAUSE OF CIVIL AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY”
The monument consists of a forty-five foot high octagonal shaft of rusticated granite blocks topped by a huge allegorical figure representing Faith. Around the base of the shaft are four buttresses each adorned with a seated allegorical figure that represents the principles upon which the Pilgrims founded their commonwealth –Morality, Law, Education, and Liberty.
Small relief figures representing Justice, Mercy, Wisdom, Youth, and Experience are located on the sides of the seated figures.
Faith is a thirty-six foot high female figure standing at the top of the monument with her proper left foot resting on Plymouth Rock. She holds a copy of the Geneva Bible in her proper left hand and she points toward heaven with her raised proper right hand. The pages of the Bible are opened up which symbolizes that it didn’t sit on a shelf. They read it. All of the other figures on the monument are tied to Faith.
On the northeast side at the base of the shaft is a seated female figure representing Morality. She is dressed in long robes and in her hands she holds the Ten Commandments and the Scroll of Revelation. She has no eyes. She is looking inwardly. It recognizes that the journey towards morality is an internal struggle rooted in the word of God. It reflects how American society is based on an internal desire to do what is right rather than having to be forced to do what is right by a king.
On the northwest side at the base of the shaft is a seated male figure representing Law. He is dressed in classical robes and in his proper left hand he holds a tablet. His right hand is extended in mercy. The tablet represents the civil law that we need to provide order. This civil law was built upon mercy and grace.
On the southwest side at the base of the shaft is a seated female figure representing Education. With her proper right hand she points to a book of knowledge that she holds in her proper left hand. She has trained her children in the way that they should go. The statue conveys that it was the parent’s responsibility to educate our youth. Knowledge was passed down from generation to generation. Our elders and ancestors are represented via a small carving under which the word Wisdom is shown holding a copy of the Ten Commandments and an open Bible.
On the southeast side at the base of the shaft is a seated male figure representing Liberty. This figure is also known as Liberty Man. He is clothed as a Centurion and in his arms he holds a sword. Beneath his heel he crushes the chains of bondage. He holds broken chains in left hand. He is draped in a lion skin which represents the Monarchy. Liberty man conquered tyranny and sits confidently in a throne of victory.
So the formula for America’s success is represented in this monument – Faith, Morality, Law, Education, and Liberty. This formula starts with faith. Our faith guides the development of an internal morality of heart. This morality reveals itself as a standard of good and bad. It is this standard of good and bad that results in a moral system of law that enforces order and extends grace. It is education that it supposed to teach these principles to future generations so that we may continue to live in freedom.
This is the only recipe for freedom that has ever worked. Not only has it worked, it has brought more joy, more prosperity, and more generosity to more people than any other system of government in the history of the world.
We would do well to remember these principles. We would do well to go beyond remembering these principles and committing ourselves to once again embrace these principles… if not for ourselves then for the sake of future generations of Americans.