Today, the Pilgrim Tercentenary Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin remembers the celebrations on December 21, 1895 for the 275th anniversary of the pilgrims landing at Plymouth.
Two newspapers of the time described the celebratory activities.
First, the Watertown [WI] Republican of December 25, 1895 included the following summary:
Senator Hoar Delivers an Oration at Plymouth, Mass.
Boston, Mass., Dec. 21. —The exercises commemorative of the anniversary of the landing of the pilgrims, or “Forefathers’ day,” are being continued today in different parts of the state. The most elaborate celebration took place this morning at Plymouth, under the auspices of the Pilgrim society, and which held public exercises for the first time in twenty-five years.
At 11 o’clock this morning the officers and members of the society and invited guests formed in procession at Pilgrim hall, and escorted by the Standish guards, marched to the armory of that organization.
Here patriotic hymns were sung, and after the reading of a poem by Richard Henry Stoddard, the eminent reviewer and critic, an oration was delivered by United States Senator George Frisbie Hoar.
This was the third oration to be delivered under the auspices of the society. Daniel Webster was the first speaker, three-quarters of a century ago; while in 1870 the late Robert O. Winthrop was the orator of the day.
The members and invited guests banqueted this afternoon at the Samoset house.
Second, The Indianapolis Journal of December 22, 1895 printed the following:
New England’s Day
275th Anniversary of Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers.
Senator Hoar Speaks at Plymouth, Refers to the Venezuelan Dispute and Predicts Arbitration.
Plymouth, Mass., Dec. 21.
The 275th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrim fathers was celebrated by the Plymouth Society here today.
The exercises included, besides special musical features, an oration by United States Senator George F. Hoar and an original poem by Richard Henry Stoddard, of Boston.
The guests of the society arrived in a special train early this afternoon, and were welcomed at the station by the reception committee of the society.
The party proceeded to Pilgrim Hall, whence, under the marshalship of Col. W. P. Stoddard, with the Standish Guards as escort, they marched to the armory, where the public exercises were held.
Senator Hoar spoke in part as follows:
“What I said just now was written more than ten days ago. Let it stand. It is well that these two great nations should know something of each other that they don’t get from their metropolitan press, whether in London or New York. Each of them should know that if it enter into a quarrel with the other it is to be a contest with that people on the face of the earth which is most like to itself. The quarrel will be maintained on both sides until Anglo-Saxon, until English, until American endurance is exhausted. For that reason, if for no other, such a conflict should never begin. This whole thing is very simple. We cannot permit any weak power on this continent to be despoiled of its territory, or to be crowded out of its rights by any strong power anywhere. England would not permit us to do that to Belgium or Denmark. On the other hand, we have no title to interfere with the established boundaries of English territory, whether we like them or do not like them. All between those two limits is subject for discussion and for arbitration; subject for that international arbitration which a delegation of English members of Parliament came to Boston a few years ago to impress upon us, saying that in their desire for its establishment they represented the opinions of a large majority of the English House of Commons. The settlement of pending differences on these principles will be compelled by the business men and the religious sentiment of these two nations’ influences, always irresistible when they are united and when they are brought to bear on the large matters of national and international import.”
The Senator said in conclusion: “Let this day forevermore be devoted to filial affection. Let it be given to the utterance of children’s love. The beautiful shadows of the Pilgrim father and the Pilgrim mother hover over us now. In that spiritual presence it cannot be that our hearts shall be cold or that our thoughts should be unworthy of our high lineage. Let every return of the Pilgrim anniversary witness a new consecration of his children to the Pilgrims’ cause in the Pilgrims’ spirit. If it shall be our fortune to enjoy the blessings civilization, of order, of retirement, of happy homes, of wealth, of letters, of safety, of good fame, of honor, of art, of the transcendent sweets of domestic life, let us enjoy them faithful to the God who has given them and to the ancestors whom he vouchsafed to make his Instruments to win them. Not unto us, but unto Him, and to them be the praise. But if we are called on in His providence to give up all these, let us remember that it is not for these things that human life on this earth is given. Let us still remember the Pilgrim’s life and the Pilgrim’s lesson. Above all, liberty; above all, faith; above all, duty.”
The Pilgrim Tercentenary Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin shows with an artist’s portrayal of the landing at Plymouth Rock, circa 1869.