BY ANDRÉ FRENCH
I am simply disgusted.
Hi atop Cole’s Hill, overlooking Plymouth Harbor, stands an enormous bronze statue of Massasoit, the chief of the Wampanoag tribe. Not as imposing a presence is another memorial placed a short stone’s throw away from this tribute to the Native Americans befriended by the Plymouth settlers. That memorial is both an abortion of history and a desecration of all that was so graciously established between the white European and his New World neighbor.
A few years back, in the dark of night as not to incite protest, and with the permission of politically correct Plymouth politicians, a group of misguided protesters, mostly college students, defaced this memorial to the landing of the peace pursuing pilgrims with a boulder marked “National Day of Mourning.” It was placed there to protest America’s annual practice of Thanksgiving. The reason? White man came but for no other reason than to slaughter and steal from the Native American. And it all started with the Mayflower landing and the pilgrim’s settlement at Plymouth.
Why am I disgusted? Cast aside the fact that the Plymouth Plantation was settled upon an enduring treaty of peace between the Pilgrims and the local native population. Forget the reality that not an inch of land was invaded or confiscated by the Pilgrims. Ignore the documented evidence that shows that the peace agreement was never broken, unlike so many treaties entered into by their European counterparts.
What bothers me is not that there are those that want to protest our abhorrent history of torture and tyranny against the Native American. What bothers me is that they chose for a location, this one shining example of genuine harmony and brotherly love between the races. This place where the tradition of Thanksgiving originated, three consecutive days of it. Where native and settler broke bread, competed in games and thanked their creator for his abundant blessing. This monument to the so-called National Day of Mourning, is disgraceful. This is the face of revisionist history, and it is a most repugnant face on which to gaze.
Why am I disgusted? Nine generations ago, my relative was the solitary cooper on the Mayflower. There exists a direct line from John and Priscilla Alden to the French family. For that reason some close relatives still bear the Alden name. Alden was not a separatist as many of the other settlers. He was part of the hired crew. You might call him the keeper of the beer. Water was not something you brought on such a voyage. For that matter, safe, drinkable water was a commodity in England, and for that reason, even the children drank beer. Still, Alden made the New World and the Plymouth Colony his home, choosing not to return to England with the ship. Today, the Alden house is a tourist attraction just north of Plymouth.
Why am I disgusted? Because I have been in mourning all my life over the devastation visited upon the native population by the white man. And I find this dishonest treatment of history in order to score political points at the expense of noble men and women, foreign and native, absolutely appalling. This same animosity is in the French DNA. William French, my “very” great grandfather, and the first French to settle in the New World, came on the ship, Defense, in 1635. He settled with his family in Billerica, just north of Boston.
William wore many hats. He was a tailor by trade, a lieutenant and then a captain of the militia. He held a deacon’s seat, became a county commissioner and served as a selectman for nine years. In 1660 he became the first representative of Billerica, taking his seat in the General Court at Boston. He was a devout Christian, devoting much of his time to the training of children and sharing the gospel with the local Indian population. He wrote a widely circulated tract published in London and entitled “Strength out of Weakness”, a powerful testimony of a Native American Christian, the text of which survives to this day.
Later in life, William worked tirelessly against the assault of the European settlers upon the native population during the horrid calamity known as King Philip’s War. He and his family, like the original settlers of the Plymouth Colony to the south, valued and respected their Native neighbors, proving a credit to the cross they professed.
I revisited Plymouth earlier this year. It was emotional for me, as it has always been. Were you to ask my grown children, they would expound on the monotony of annual history lessons revolving around the pilgrim separatists, the Wampanoag natives and that first Thanksgiving. They would speak of Squanto and Alden and the story of five kernels of corn. But mostly, they would laugh and sigh and poke fun at dad’s love affair with all that was right between the races, when all that was and remains wrong seems all that we hear today.
In reality, what was right then is still right today. As long as there are those, like me and so many others, that love and value our brethren, regardless of where they live, what color they come in and creed they confess. I have no problem taking issue with the corruption brought ashore by America’s European settlers. But if you’re going to take your complaint to the culprit, don’t plant it in Plymouth. Tell the truth and treat history with the respect it has earned.
~André French © 2013
Self-Educated American Guest Writer, André French, is a husband and father of three from Sharon Springs, NY. He is a small business owner, musician, songwriter, and worship leader, and writes regularly on history, politics, culture, faith, and family. Andre’s Facebook Page
Self-Educated American recommends: Lincoln, Speeches and Writings (2 Volume Set) : Vol I: 1832-1858 (Speeches, Letters, and Miscellaneous Writings, The Lincoln-Douglas Debates) ; Vol II: 1859-1865, (Speeches, Letters, and Miscellaneous Writings Presidential Messages and Proclamations)