History of Maryland’s Liberty Tree

600pxMembers of the Allegany County Forestry Board collected seed from a scion (graft) of the original Maryland historic Liberty Tree, a tulip poplar that stood at the site of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. Board members then sent the seeds to John S. Ayton State Tree Nursery where the tree nursery manager germinated the seeds and nurtured the seedlings.

Under this tree, American revolutionaries advocated independence from Great Britain during the Stamp Act of 1765. Liberty Trees were gathering places for Sons of Liberty groups throughout the American colonies and from their meetings and discussions, the seeds of the American Revolution were planted. Samuel Chase and William Paca, two members of the Sons of Liberty from the Annapolis chapter, who gathered for meetings under the Liberty Tree, became signers of the Declaration of Independence.

The tree stood silent witness from several blocks away when George Washington resigned his military commission as commander in chief of the Continental Army on December 23, 1783 at the Annapolis State House. Francis Scott Key, author of the Star-Spangled Banner, often walked under the branches of the Liberty Tree in the 1790s while a student at St John’s College.

In 1999, at an estimated 400 years of age, the last of the surviving liberty trees in the original 13 colonies died from damage caused by Hurricane Floyd. This tulip tree was at one time the largest known of its species in the United States: Height: 124′; Circumference: 26′; Spread: 117′; Diameter at 4 1/2”¢ 8.25′.