Les lieux symboliques américains - Maxicours

Les lieux symboliques américains

1. Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts
In 1620, a big ship, the Mayflower, sailed from Plymouth (in England) to America.
The passengers were fleeing from religious persecution in Europe, and hoped to found a better civilisation on the New Continent. That's why they were called the Pilgrim Fathers*.

The Mayflower arrived in Cape Cod, not far from what has now become Boston. The Pilgrim Fathers settled* there and called the place Plymouth too.

The first winter was very cold, and many died. But thanks to the help of the Native Americans, the Pilgrims managed to grow crops*.
The following autumn they all had a great feast* to thank God for having helped them. It was the first Thanksgiving feast.

2. Ellis Island
Ellis Island is a small island, east to New-York City.
It is the place where immigrants first arrived, after having crossed the Atlantic Ocean by ferry.

During the peak years of immigration (1892-1924), hundreds of thousands of new immigrants arrived there and were scrutinized to check if they were ill or disabled*.

This place symbolized the doors to a better life, but many were rejected and never entered the USA.

Ellis Island finally closed its doors in 1954, and there is now an important "Immigration Museum".

3. Mount Rushmore National Memorial
This huge rock is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

It took 14 years and 400 workers (from 1927 to 1941) to sculpt the faces of four famous American presidents :

  • Georges Washington (1732-1799) : the first president of the USA (1789-1797). He represents the "Father of the Country".
  • Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) : an American politician who drafted* the Declaration of Independence (1776) and became the third president of the USA (1801-1809).
  • Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) : famous Commander in the Spanish American war in Cuba (1898), he became president in 1901. The opening of the Panama Canal, linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, was a very important step for the development of trade* between the West and the East.
  • Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)  : 16th president of the USA (1861-65), he was opposed to slavery*, and his determination to abolish it precipitated the Civil War (1861-65). He was assassinated 5 days after the end of the war.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial symbolizes the greatness of the USA through the greatness of its leaders.
4. The Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Native American have always lived in the Grand Canyon.
But when the first Europeans arrived in 1540, the Native Americans had to share the place with missionaries, trappers and explorers.
By the late 1800's, the spectacular beauty of the site began to attract visitors and businessmen.

In 1901, the first Santa Fe passenger train was inaugurated, and in 1908 the Grand Canyon became a national monument.
The Grand Canyon is a symbol of the beautiful and untouched American wilderness.


The Pilgrim fathers : les Pères pélerins
To settle : s'établir
Grow crops : cultiver des céréales
Feast : fête, festin
Disabled : handicapé
Drafted : ébaucha
Trade : commerce
Slavery : esclavage

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