Plymouth: If Not First in Time, First in the Country's Heart





This year, as Jamestown, Va., splashily celebrated the 400th anniversary of its founding as the nation’s first permanent English settlement, the home of Plymouth Rock found itself on the defensive.

Virginians have relished trumpeting that Jamestown came first, even vowing to get it “out from under Plymouth Rock.”

Their strategy has worked, to an extent: Jamestown’s tourism figures rivaled Plymouth’s this year, and even Queen Elizabeth II paid a visit. In a speech near Jamestown on Tuesday, President Bush challenged the popular notion that Plymouth was home to the first Thanksgiving.

“The good folks here say that the founders of Berkeley held their celebration before the Pilgrims had even left port,” Mr. Bush said, referring to a plantation in Virginia where settlers arrived in 1619. “As you can imagine, this version of events is not very popular up north.”

In response to such barbs, the people of Plymouth have gone to greater lengths than usual to prove it is “America’s Hometown,” as its marketing brochures announce.



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