The Forefathers Monument: Morality

This is the second in a 5-part series on the Forefathers Monument. You may want to start with the first one, "THE FOREFATHERS MONUMENT: FAITH," before continuing with the others.

There is good news in America. Our hope as a nation shining above all others is that our forefathers brought to our shores a national treasure. They unloaded this treasure at Plymouth Harbor in November of 1620. It was not in chests that could be lost at sea like a pirate’s booty. The treasure was indelibly planted into the hearts and minds of every suffering man, woman, and child who came. It enabled them to create out of a wilderness the most free and prosperous nation in human history.

The value of this national treasure and the cost of losing it was described by Daniel Webster in 1820. Speaking of the Pilgrims, he said, "Our fathers were brought here by their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence though all their institutions, civil, political, or literary [the media of their time]."

He also said, “If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.” Could this be the reason that Americans are facing the possible loss of our freedoms and prosperity?

Our ancestors left us a plan, a roadmap back to freedom and prosperity knowing that we might lose our way. They built a magnificent monument, now hidden away in a small village in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was lovingly planned and built over the course of 70 years, from 1820-1890. Yet today the Forefathers Monument stands neglected and almost forgotten.

The Forefathers Monument, the largest granite monument in America, stands 86 feet high and weighs 180 tons. The center of the monument is a classically draped female entitled Faith. Her right hand is raised pointing to heaven and her left hand holds a Bible. Facing out from Faith are four smaller statues (about 20 tons each). The first of these is Morality. Morality is represented by a seated female statue holding the Ten Commandments in one hand and the scroll of Revelation in the other. These represent the standard of Morality which comes from both the Old and New Testaments. Images carved on both sides of the statue are that of a Prophet and an Evangelist. These indicate that the power of morality comes from the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This internal Morality, character, or virtue that is essential for liberty includes: self-government, patience, faith, diligence, courage, long-suffering, godliness, kindness, and Christian love. The noble and simple story of the Pilgrims at Plymouth portrays the true meaning of Morality and virtue.

U.S. Senator George Hoar addressed the State House in Boston in 1897. He had become convinced that Pilgrim Governor William Bradford’s history Of Plymouth Plantation was “the most precious on earth” with the exception of the four gospels. In the presence of a large gathering of government representatives and rulers he said that the Bradford diary was the only authentic history of what we have a right to consider the most important political transaction that has ever taken place on the face of the earth.

"There is nothing like it in human annals since the story of Bethlehem. These Englishmen and Englishwomen going out from their homes in beautiful Lincoln and York, wife separating from husband and mother from child in that hurried embarkation for Holland, pursued to the beach by English horsemen; the thirteen years of exile; the life at Amsterdam 'in alley foul and lane obscure'; the dwelling at Leyden; the embarkation at Delfthaven; the farewell of Robinson; the terrible voyage across the Atlantic; the compact in the harbor; the landing on the rock; the dreadful first winter; the death roll of more than half the number; the days of suffering and of famine...the building of the State on those sure foundations which no wave or tempest has ever shaken; the breaking of the new light; the dawning of the new day; the beginning of the new life; the enjoyment of peace with liberty, - of all these things this is the original record by the hand of our beloved father and founder."

Governor Wolcott then said that the Pilgrims in Plymouth suffered greatly for a great cause, “but their noble purpose was not doomed to defeat, but was carried to perfect victory. They established what they planned. Their feeble plantation became the birthplace of religious liberty, the cradle of a free commonwealth. To them a mighty nation owns its debt...they have made the civilized world their debtor.” He then spoke of the “conscience, courage, and faith, set in the web by that little band. May God in His mercy grant that the moral impulse which founded this nation may never cease to control its destiny.”

Today, as Christians we must help answer the above prayer. We have nearly spent this immeasurable inheritance. It is time for us as Christians to work and sacrifice for our children and grandchildren as “forefathers” did for us. There is great hope for the future if we return much of our focus to the bottom-up strategy of victory which our forefathers left us. Our founders were united in the belief that morality and virtue were absolutely essential for freedom.

Our second President John Adams once stated, "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice [greed], ambition, revenge... would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."

His cousin, Samuel Adams was the leader of the patriot revolution. He said, "A general dissolution of the principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but once they lose their virtue, they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader. If virtue and knowledge are di used among the people, they will never be enslaved. This will be their great security."

"Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.

"He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man. The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy this gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people."

The bottom-up, internal to external strategy of liberty is found in the Forefathers Monument. The strategy of liberty beginning with faith, morality, and self-government is our great hope!

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