"From the east to the west blow the trumpet to arms,
Through the land let the sound of it flee
Let the far and the near, all unite with a cheer,
In defense of our Liberty Tree!"
Corny words for us today but at one time these words inflamed the hearts of men with patriotic passion and a sense of duty seldom seen in our modern times. In the late 1700’s - these words were a call to arms.
For many years, the shade of an elm had provided a natural meeting place for the residents of South Boston. Planted by an earlier generation, this now quite large tree will become a symbol of the Sons of Liberty as they conduct their business under its lofty branches. This small corner of Boston with its soon to be called “Liberty Tree” will become a site of controversy to be copied in the other colonies by adopting their own trees of liberty.
Some Liberty Tree Highlights:
- During August of 1765, several meetings originating at the tree spilled out to the streets of greater Boston as effigies of tax supporters were dragged through the streets to be beheaded and burned at the stake. The Sheriff is called but refuses to deal with the crowd saying the situation is too dangerous. The crowd continues to grow and turns riotous destroying the homes of the Massachusetts stamp agent and the lieutenant governor.
- Weeks later, September 11, someone nails a large copper plate to its trunk declaring it the “Tree of Liberty.” Henceforth it will be called the “Liberty Tree.”
- Thereafter the Boston Sons of Liberty will meet at the site calling meetings by placing a large red flagstaff in its branches and often decorating it with banners and lanterns.
- The British make fun of it but news of it spreads and soon other colonies begin adopting their own trees as a symbol of dissent.
- November 1, 1765, the day the Stamp tax was to begin, a crowd gathers at the Liberty Tree and hangs effigies of British officials from it limbs, then take them to the town’s gallows and hang them again.
- Eight years later in 1773, the Boston Sons of Liberty demand the resignation of Boston’s tea agents to be done publicly under the Liberty Tree. The next day a crowd of 500 awaits their arrival but the agents flee to British authorities for safety.
- Three months later in January of 1774, a Boston mob tars and feathers Custom Commissioner John Maalcom and take him to the Liberty Tree threatening to hang him from its branches if he does not renounce his commission. He refuses and they then threaten to cut off his ears. He still refuses and relents only when scalding tea is forced down his throat.
- Finally, in August of 1775, the originial Liberty Tree is cut down by British Loyalist Job Williams. It had been planted in 1646 and was 129 years old.
- October 25, 1999, in Annapolis, Maryland, the last Liberty Tree in existence is finally cut down due to damage from Hurrican Floyd - a 400 year old tulip popular.