The Original Liberty Tree (1646–1775) was a famous elm tree that stood in Boston, near Boston Common, in the days before the American Revolution. The tree was a rallying point for the growing resistance to the rule of England over the American colonies. In the years that followed, almost every American town had its own Liberty Tree—a living symbol of popular support for individual liberty and resistance to tyranny. In some locales, a Liberty Pole rather than a tree served the same political purpose.

In 1765 the British government imposed a Stamp Act on the American colonies. It required all legal documents, permits, commercial contracts, newspapers, pamphlets, and playing cards in the American colonies to carry a tax stamp. Because the Act applied to papers, newspapers, advertisements, and other publications and legal documents, it was viewed by the colonists as a means of censorship, or a “knowledge tax,” on the rights of the colonists to write and read freely.

The summer of 1765 in Boston was marked by militant citizens demonstrating against the Stamp Act. On August 14, 1765, a group of men calling themselves the Sons of Liberty gathered in Boston under a large elm tree at the corner of Essex Street and Orange Street near Hanover Square to protest the hated Stamp Act. The Sons of Liberty concluded their protest by hanging two tax collectors in effigy from the tree. From that day forward, the tree became known as the “Liberty Tree.” The tree was often decorated with banners and lanterns. Assemblies were regularly held to express views and vent emotions. A flagstaff or pole was raised within the Tree’s branches and when an ensign (usually yellow) was raised, the Sons of Liberty were to meet.

When the news of the Liberty Tree spread throughout the colonies, local patriots in each of the 13 colonies formed a Sons of Liberty group and identified a large tree to be used as a meeting place. In those times, holding an unauthorized assembly was dangerous business that carried threats of imprisonment or death. The casual appearance of a group chatting beneath a tree was much safer.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Advertisements