1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Provincetown
PROVINCETOWN, a township at the N. end of Cape Cod, in Barnstable county, Massachusetts, U.S.A. Pop. (1890), 4642; (1900), 4247; (1910 U.S. census) 4369. Area about 9½ sq. ni. The township is served by the New York, New Haven & Hartford railway, and by a steamship line to Boston. The harbour, which is important as a harbour of refuge, is protected on the east by land, and the Federal government has strengthened this protection by dikes and groins and other sand-catching devices; it has five lighthouses. There is a magnificent beach stretching 30 m. from Provincetown village to Eastham. The village is a summer resort. Through many generations the inhabitants have gained their living chiefly from the sea; the township's fisheries, however, have greatly decreased in importance (the invested capital diminishing 67.1% in 1885–1895). The prosperity it retains is not a little due to Portuguese from the Cape Verde Islands and the Azores, and to British Americans. Provincetown village was long second only to Gloucester in the cod fisheries, which low prices and the introduction of larger vessels and correspondingly costlier fittings have greatly handicapped. Whaling retains a remnant of its old importance, and there are also mackerel and shore fisheries, oil-works, cold storage establishments for preserving fish for food and bait, and canning works for herring. The first settlement here was made about 1680; it became a “ district ” or precinct of Truro in 1714, and was established as a township with its present name in 1727. Provincetown harbour was possibly visited by Gaspar Cortereal in 1501; Gosnold explored it and its vicinity in 1602, and John Smith was here in 1614. It was in this harbour that the “ Mayflower ” compact (see Massachusetts) was drawn up and signed by the Pilgrims before they proceeded to Plymouth, in 1620; here John Carver was chosen the first governor of Plymouth Colony, and Provincetown was the first landing place (on Saturday the 11th [o.s.] of November) of the Pilgrims in the New World. A memorial of the “ compact,” of polished Acton granite, 6 ft. high, with two bronze tablets, was erected before the town-hall by the Old Colony Commission, and on High Pole Hill on the 20th of August 1907 the cornerstone of a second memorial (completed in 1909, dedicated Aug. 5, 1910), a granite tower, 252 ft. high, was laid, addresses being delivered by President Roosevelt, James Bryce and H. C. Lodge. In Provincetown harbour, on the 1st of January 1862, James M. Mason and John Slidell, the envoys of the Confederate States to Great Britain and France respectively, who had been taken by a Federal vessel from the British ship “ Trent,” were restored by the Federal authorities to H.B.M.S. “ Rinaldo,” after their detention in Fort Warren in Boston harbour.