Planting of the First Liberty Tree

Last year (2021) the Liberty Camp for Kids extended its camp week from 5 days to 6 days, ending on Saturday, July 31st. The traditional Friday Family Day was moved to Saturday and a new tradition was added, the planting of a Liberty Tree. With the approach of America’s 250th Anniversary in 2026, it is hoped a Liberty Tree will be planted with the students and staff at the end of each yearly camp. This particular tree was donated by Al Gummere of Lancaster, a member of the Hocking Valley Chapter Sons of the American Revolution. The original Liberty Tree was a famous large elm tree that stood in Boston, Massachusetts for years before the American Revolution. The tree became a rallying place for colonists opposed to the various taxes and oppressive acts imposed by the British government first beginning with the Stamp Act in 1765. Paul Revere did an engraving of the tree that year and a copper sign was placed on the tree that read, “This tree was planted in the year 1646, and pruned by order of the Sons of Liberty, Feb. 14, 1766.” During the siege of Boston in 1775, British soldiers and loyalists cut down the tree, knowing its significance to the patriots. Later, when the British evacuated Boston, a Liberty Pole was placed near the stump. The Liberty Tree became a popular symbol throughout the colonies during the War for Independence and in the decades immediately after. In 1787, Thomas Jefferson would make famous the Liberty Tree in a metaphor, “The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”At last year’s Family Day, guest speaker Pastor Ed Bonniwell of Cincinnati gave a wonderful sermon on Divine Providence in the Revolutionary War. After his sermon, the kids and camp staff joined Pastor Ed and his compatriots in the Sons of the American Revolution in a formal ceremony for the planting of the camp’s first Liberty Tree. The Colors were posted and a musket salute was fired, and each camp participant placed a shovel of dirt into the hole for the tree to take root. A sign was placed next to the tree commemorating the event. It describes the tree as an October Glory Maple tree that symbolizes the American victory at Yorktown in October 1781. After the ceremony, everyone enjoyed a luncheon, and period music was provided by the Heritage Fifes & Drums. Camper awards were given out, and the children enjoyed spending their hard-earned camp coins at the Liberty Store.

Bob Hill,

Hocking Valley Chapter Sons of the American Revolution

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