Mr. Thayer to Mr. Blaine.

No. 41.]

Sir: The recent dedication of the “Pilgrim Statue” at Plymouth, Massachusetts, which has awakened such general interest in the events of our early history, having naturally directed my attention to the connection of Holland with the particular event thus celebrated, I have the honor to state that it has recently been my privilege to retrace the steps of the Pilgrims from the commencement of their journey in this country to the place where they finally embarked upon their memorable enterprise.

Leaving their homes in Leyden, where during eleven years they had enjoyed a safe and hospitable asylum under the auspices of the Dutch Republic, they traveled by canal through the city of Delft to the point where this canal enters the river Maas, and which for this reason is called Deftshaven, or the “Port of Deift,” where lay the Speedwell, the vessel which they had bought to convey them to America.

Following the banks of the canal to the place where it joins the river I took especial pains to note the point of land which the Speedwell must have doubled as she entered the Maas to follow its course to the sea. Upon this spot, doubtless, John Robinson and that portion of the company who were to remain in Holland till later took leave of their brethren as the vessel commenced its voyage. I observed that the spot was one eminently favorable for being marked by some memorial. The river, with a broad sweep, bends around in such a way to either side of it that it can be seen from a great distance both to the east and west, that is, as one approaches the busy port of Rotterdam from the North Sea, and as one descends the river on the outward journey, while hundreds of vessels of every size and description are constantly passing, in going to or coming from every part of the globe. On inquiry I ascertained that all the territory immediately adjoining the harbor was public land belonging to the city of Rotterdam, to which corporation Delfts-haven has been annexed within very recent years. I also perceived that a fine sea-wall of brick and blocks of basalt rock was being constructed—and would soon thoroughly fortify the point in question against the encroachments of the powerful tides which here prevail, as well as the occasional floods.

Surely the cause of civil and religious liberty never claimed greater sacrifices than those made by the Pilgrim Fathers of New England and the inhabitants of the Dutch Republic, who gave them from the first that substantial aid and encouragement without which their organization would doubtless never have been perfected.

In view of the above-named facts and the interest the national Government has recently taken in the Pilgrim Memorial just dedicated, I have the honor to submit to the Department for its consideration the [Page 641] propriety of making an effort for the erection of a suitable monument on the spot indicated, as a tribute to the heroism of both peoples, and as a further measure of strengthening the bonds of friendship between two nations in whom the love of liberty is a common inheritance.

I have, etc.,

Samuel R. Thayer.