The American Sense of Puritan: Concluding Images

The Pilgrims in the Capitol


The images in the U.S. Capitol are as follows:

In the Rotunda:
A relief of the Landing of the Puritans.
A painting of the Embarkation of the Pilgrims at Delft Haven, Holland, July 22nd, 1620.
A scene of the Landing of Pilgrims at Plymouth, Mass., 1620; within the Rotunda frieze.

In the President's Room of the Senate Wing:
A symbolic painting of William Brewster, signifying Religion.

In Statuary Hall
A Statue of Roger Williams

In the Hall of Columns
A Statue of John Winthrop

The Pilgrims in the Rotunda

The Landing of the Pilgrims, 1620 was contributed by Enrico Causici in 1825, and is one of four reliefs which stand over the four Rotunda doors. The others are: Conflict of Daniel Boone with the Indians, Preservation of Captain Smith by Pocahantas, and William Penn's Treaty with the Indians. As Vivien Fryd points out, all are representations of early contact points with Native Americans, and all indicate "the inevitable subjugation or assimilation of the Indian race" (Fryd, 40). All completed within the mid to late 1820s, they anticipated and then condoned an ideology that would see its political manifestation most clearly in the 1830 act of Indian Removal.

The Landing of the Pilgrims employs the religious signification of the Pilgrims, even as it portrays an apparent inevitability of European- based domination. The Indian is massive; a purely physical creature. All he has to offer is raw nature, in the corn he holds out and the rock he sits upon. The look on his face is a pitiful grimace, a seemingly dull recognition that the person before him is to be looked up to and entreated-- for what, is not clear. The Pilgrim 'Father' is defined as such by the presence of wife and child, and the former's upturned eyes suggest that the undeniable confidence and power is founded in an assurance of heavenly purpose. It suggests that the woman's open hand which greets God, is part of what draws down Providential power; transfers it through her other arm and hand down into her son, whose own left arm begins an arc that seems to blend into the father and emerge at his other side in his own upheld hand. The hand of the Pilgrim Father is in this way both greeting and warning in the same action.

The Embarkation of the Pilgrims at Delft Haven, Holland, July 22nd, 1620 was painted by Robert W. Weir in 1843. It stands as one of eight paintings in the Rotunda, which together form a narrative of early American history. Four of the paintings were completed by John Trumbull in the late 1810s and early 20s, and portray different important moments of the Revolutionary era: the signing of the Declaration, the surrender of Burgoyne and of Cornwallis, and the resignation of Washington. The others take as their themes Pocahontas, De Soto, and Columbus, and were added between 1840 and 1855.

How we see the pilgrims and puritans and links to factual information. Excellent resource by Scott Atkin,