Liberty Tree – from Boston to Ohio

The Cincinnati Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution are in process of planting liberty trees around the State of Ohio.  There are 21 “Liberty Trees” growing today in New Hampshire to be transplanted around Ohio in the spring of 2026.  This timing is set around the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Many of us have heard the term “Liberty Tree”. 

Here is a brief history of America’s Liberty Tree. It was planted in Boston in 1646. Then, some 120 years later, the people gathered around this stately old elm tree to protest the Stamp Act. In the years following, Liberty Trees were planted and honored in cities all across America.

Short History: 

The Liberty Tree (1646–1775) was a famous elm tree that stood in Boston, Massachusetts near Boston Common, in the years before the American Revolution. In 1765, colonists in Boston staged the first act of defiance against the British government at the tree. The tree became a rallying point for the growing resistance to the rule of Britain over the American colonies, and the ground surrounding it became known as Liberty Hall. The Liberty Tree was felled in August 1775 by British Loyalists led by Nathaniel Coffin Jr.[1] or by Job Williams.[2]

Bronze Plaque in Liberty Tree Mall in Boston

The Stamp Act Protests

Original plaque over where the historic Liberty Tree once stood

At the 1964 New York World’s Fair a sculpture of the tree designed by Albert Surman was a featured exhibit in the New England Pavilion. When the Liberty Tree Mall was opened in 1972, the sculpture was installed at center court.

In October 1966, the Boston Herald began running stories pointing out that the only commemoration of the Liberty Tree site was a grimy plaque, installed in the 1850s,[5] on a building at 630 Washington Street three stories above what is now the intersection of Essex and Washington Streets, a block east of Boston Common. Reporter Ronald Kessler found that the plaque was covered with bird droppings and obscured by a Kemp’s hamburger sign. Local guidebooks did not mention it.[10]

To call attention to how obscure the site had become, Kessler interviewed waitresses at the Essex Delicatessen below the bas relief plaque on Washington Street. None knew what the Liberty Tree was. “The Liberty Tree? That’s a roast beef sandwich with a slice of Bermuda onion, Russian dressing, and a side of potato salad,” said one waitress who had worked beneath the plaque for 20 years.[10]

New bronze plaque on Liberty Tree Plaza in Boston

Kessler persuaded then Massachusetts Governor John A. Volpe to visit the site. A photo of Volpe examining the plaque from a fire engine ladder appeared on page one of the 6 October 1966 edition of the Boston Herald.[11]

In 1974, funding was approved for a small park at Washington and Essex, which at that time was part of an area known as the Combat Zone.[12] Plans to plant trees there had to be scrapped because there were too many underground utilities.[13] The Boston Redevelopment Authority ultimately placed a small bronze plaque in the sidewalk across the street from the bas relief plaque. The plaque bears the inscription “SONS OF LIBERTY, 1766; INDEPENDENCE of their COUNTRY, 1776.”[citation needed]

In December 2018, the city finally opened Liberty Tree Plaza at 2 Boylston Street, across the street from the original bas relief. The plaza has tables and chairs, landscaping, lighting, an elm tree to commemorate the original tree that British soldiers cut down in 1775 before the outbreak of the American Revolution, and a stone monument inscribed with the history of the Liberty Tree. The Liberty Tree “became a rallying point for colonists protesting the British-imposed Stamp Act in 1765 and became an important symbol of their cause,” the inscription says. “These ‘Sons of Liberty’ began the struggle that led to the Revolutionary War and American independence.”[14]

Boston’s Old State House museum houses a remnant of the flag that flew above the Liberty Tree, and one of the original lanterns that were hung from the tree during the Stamp Act repeal celebration in 1766.[5

“Tree of Liberty”

Besides actual trees, the term “Tree of Liberty” is associated with a quotation from a 1787 letter written by Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Source of the Ohio bound trees

A vendor, Liberty Tree Society, located in Keene, NH was selected for the purchase of 10’ – 12’ disease resistant Elm trees. They were offered at the 5 year advanced price of $203.00 each FOB for delivery in Spring 2026. (Spring is a better time to plant vs. the heat of the summer in July). Twenty-one trees were sponsored statewide.  In the coming 5 years the committee will order, at the sponsor’s expense, markers to describe the trees.  In Spring of 2026, the trees will be shipped to a central location, possibly Columbus, where each sponsor will be responsible for getting their tree home. Each sponsor will determine a suitable location for their tree where it will be properly cared for.

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