The Liberty Tree dates back to a time
before the American Revolution. Each of the thirteen original
Colonies chose its own tree, strong in stature, for a meeting place
where they could secretly sew the seeds of rebellion against the Crown.
These trees represented the Colonies' desire for liberty and self rule,
hence the name, "Liberty Tree".
The first Liberty Tree was located
in Boston where on the morning of August 14, 1765, the people of Boston
awoke to discover two effigies suspended from an elm tree in protest
of the hated Stamp Act. In 1775, before they were forced out of
Boston, the British cut down the mighty "Liberty Elm" knowing
what it represented to the colonists.
Maryland's Liberty Tree
The historic City of Annapolis, capital
of the U.S. (1783-1784), home to the United States Naval Academy and
many other historic sites, was also home of the last standing Liberty
Tree. Here in the "Free State" under the "Balms
of the Liberty Tree", the first Methodist sermon in Maryland was
given. Long proceeding the Revolution, the tree was used like
its counterparts, as a rallying point and a sign of liberty that was
so precious to our forefathers. In fact, the tree's history proceeds
any of the European colonization in America. Maryland's Liberty
Tree was located on the campus of one of America's finest schools, St.
John's College, where it gave shade to students and visitors.
St. John's graduation ceremony was held under its bountiful canopy
of leaves each year.
Maryland's Liberty Tree,
a tulip poplar, had suffered much from both nature and man.
In 1907, John T. Withers was called in to save the tree. His team
cleaned the core of the tree which had been hollowed out, then placed
steel rods and concrete inside the trunk. After Hurricane Floyd,
experts were called upon to evaluate the condition of the tree.
This time, sadly they decided that upkeep on this tree would be too
costly and they decided that she must come down.
On October 25th, 1999, a small ceremony
was held. In attendance was the Governor of Maryland, the Mayor
of Annapolis, some of the faculty of St. John's and several hundred
onlookers. This was the last morning that the Liberty Tree's green,
lush canopy would fill the sky. It was a sad sight to see the
people placing flowers at the base of the tree, knowing that soon it
would no longer be there to offer its shade. With the help of
a 50-ton crane and a work crew, the four-day process began. Early
on, some on-lookers were able to get small pieces of the tree.
However, later the college felt it better to not allow this due to time
constraints on the workers. Soon the chippers came to life as
the once beautiful tree was slowly removed from sight. The pieces
of the trunk and large limbs were taken away.