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The True Story Behind Plymouth Rock

American children all learn the story of the Pilgrims, who landed at Plymouth Rock in what is now Massachusetts in 1620. The colony of English immigrants faced a terrible first winter, but a bountiful harvest the next summer. The reason we are more familiar with this colony than the dozens of others who went through the same thing is that we still celebrate that bountiful harvest in our Thanksgiving holiday. But what do we know about Plymouth Rock itself? It must be a huge boulder, to have a place named after it. Or not.

In fact, the rock went unidentified for 121 years. It wasn’t until 1741, when a wharf was to be built over it, that 94-year-old Thomas Faunce, a town record keeper and the son of a pilgrim who arrived in Plymouth in 1623, reported the rock’s significance. Ever since, Plymouth Rock has been an object of reverence, as a symbol of the founding of a new nation.

So what happened to Plymouth Rock? It was used for political purposes, and was broken in pieces several times. Read the saga of that rock at Smithsonian.

(Image credit: National Museum of American History)

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