Liberty Tree Bible Boxes
In 2009, the last standing Liberty Tree, a 600 year old tulip poplar in Annapolis Maryland was irretrievably damaged in Hurricane Floyd and the wood was headed to the dumpster. Through a series of providential happenings, the Providence Forum took possession of a large portion of the wood, believing that this monument to America’s formation deserved a better destiny. Why did we care about a 600 year old “dead” tree?
What is a Liberty Tree
In the years leading up to the American Revolution, local patriots in each of the 13 colonies, who called themselves “the Sons of Liberty,” identified a large tree to be used as a meeting place. Where there was no suitable tree, a large pole was erected and appropriately called a Liberty Pole. Silas Downer captured the importance of the Liberty Tree in these moving words:
We do therefore, in the name and behalf of all the true 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 and found under trees in the wilderness.
The first Liberty Tree, an elm in Colonial Boston, had much significance. Thomas Paine, one of the galvanizing forces behind the American Revolution, wrote this:
“Unmindful of names or distinction they came, For freemen like brothers agree: With one spirit endow’d, they one friendship pursued, And their temple was Liberty tree.”
Realizing the tree’s valuable political symbolism, British soldiers destroyed it in 1775.
The last of the original Liberty trees stood on the campus of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, the alma mater of Francis Scott Key. In 1999 the nearly 600 year old 96-foot tulip poplar was damaged by Hurricane Floyd and was felled. Maryland resident and landscaper, Mark Mehnert rescued the historic wood.
What Happened to the Wood?
Roughly half of the Liberty Tree wood was purchased by Taylor Guitars in 2000. The Providence Forum purchased the remaining wood in 2001 and began a preservation and educational program through the development of gifts honoring American history and American heroes. World-renowned artisan Eugene Landon was commissioned to craft a series of historic items to be presented to American citizens and organizations who best represent duty to country and honor to God.
In colonial time, most families had a special box where they kept their most precious items, including but not limited to, their Bible. On July 4, 2001 at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA, The Providence Forum presented President George W. Bush with the first Liberty Tree Bible Box. The gift was inscribed with the same Bible verse that is cast on America’s Liberty Bell: Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof, Leviticus 25:10
In 2002, The Providence Forum presented former President James Earl Carter with the second Liberty Tree Bible Box in a ceremony in Pennsylvania. The United States Naval Academy is an additional recipient of a Liberty Tree Bible Box.
Is there any wood left?
Follow the journey of our Liberty Tree Wood on Our Project Experience Page »