A Tree Rooted in History

Written by: Steven Fisher, Board Member

The Providence Forum has the honor and privilege of preserving the legacy represented by America’s Liberty Tree. The Liberty Tree was identified in 1765 by the Sons of Liberty in Boston in the context of their protest against the Stamp Act. As tensions mounted in the years leading to the declaration of American independence in 1776, the practice of gathering support for the American cause under a large tree in urban centers began to spread throughout the colonies. One by one, over the years these ancient Liberty Trees have passed away.

The last of the original Liberty Trees, a tulip poplar, estimated to be up to 400 years old, stood on the campus of St. Johns College in Annapolis Maryland. It was felled in 1999 after being damaged by Hurricane Floyd. God, in his Providence, allowed Dr. Peter Lillback of The Providence Forum to be made aware of the wood and trees grown from seedlings from this important tree. After these seedlings were propagated into small trees at The American Forest Preserve in Florida, Dr. Lillback obtained support from the Dupont family to transfer and care for these “seedling trees” at their Mt. Cuba Botanical Gardens in Delaware. These trees were then provided to significant locations throughout the United States.

As the supply of Liberty Trees grown from seedlings dwindled, one of the trees was bud-grafted by Pleasant Run Nursery in Jackson New Jersey. These bud-grafted trees enact life as an authentic offspring of the last original Liberty Tree. We are now able to continually grow Liberty Trees which have the “DNA” of the original Maryland tree.

To date, Liberty Trees have been planted at; The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Mt. Vernon, Pohick Church, Virginia (George Washington’s church), The National Arboretum in Washington DC, veteran’s memorials, state capitals (Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Connecticut), Revolutionary War Battlefields, Christian mission centers, theme parks and individual patriot’s homes.

The Providence Forum can be contacted for provision of a tree for planting at appropriate locations. We pray our tree planting sites will be a living testimony to our American founding ideals and principles. These ideals are expressed by the revolutionary patriot, Silas Downer in these moving words,

“We do therefore, in name and behalf of all the Sons of Liberty in America, dedicate and solemnly devote this tree, to be a Tree of Liberty. May all our councils and deliberations under its venerable branches be guided by wisdom and directed to the support and maintenance of the liberty which our renowned forefathers sought out”.

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