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“The Mayflower myth is that they hit Plymouth Rock, they are met by the Indians, they form a treaty and a year later they celebrate the first Thanksgiving,” Mr. Philbrick said.

The Cape Cod Pilgrim Memorial Association, founded in 1892, commissioned the Provincetown monument in an effort to set the historical record straight. Modeled by its architect after the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy, the tower was constructed for the modest sum of $92,000, with $40,000 paid by the federal government and the rest raised through private donations.

The effort certainly got attention at the time. President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone for the monument in 1907 and President William Taft was on hand for the dedication ceremony in 1910.