Roger Conant Statue in Salem
Salem Statue Issues
‘Labor unrest provoked fears of mounting violence and radical political protest’, he explains in his book Imagining New England: Explorations of Regional Identity from the Pilgrims to the Mid-Twentieth Century, published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2001.
‘Amid a rising tide of immigrants and growing alarm over labor unrest, a new monument to Salem’s past was erected — a grand human figure that, in Professor Conforti’s words, ‘hovered like a moral sentry over Salem’s changed social order’.
‘In 1911, noted sculptor Henry Kitson completed a statue of Roger Conant, the first permanent settler in Salem. Situated next to the common in the center of the city, the magnificent figure rivaled Saint-Gaudens’s statue of The Puritan, to which it bears a striking resemblance. Bestride an eight-foot boulder, the stern, manly Conant towered over pedestrians’.
In Professor Conforti’s view, Kitson’s sculpture had a political purpose. It ‘served to inspire the native-born minority and to encourage respect for Salem’s heritage among the city’s immigrant throng.’