On Wednesday, August 15, a crowd of about 25 guests of all ages gathered around the American Elm 'Liberty Tree' in front of the Coventry Town Hall to learn about and honor the history of the Liberty Tree that was planted in Boston in 1646. The event's location is also the site of a bronze memorial marker that was placed to recognize Troop 39 Summit who planted the tree on June 20, 2009.
The Western RI Historical Society hosted the event that included a historical presentation, a poem recitation and musical accompaniment by the Gloucester Light Infantry Fife and Drum group.
According to the WRIHS, the American Liberty Elm was named the “The Liberty Tree: Our country’s first symbol of Freedom.” On the morning of August 14, 1765, Boston awakened to discover two effigies suspended from an elm tree in protest of the hated Stamp Act. From that day forward, it became known as “The Liberty Tree.” It stood in silent witness to countless meetings and celebrations, and became the rallying place for the Sons of Liberty. In August of 1775, as a last act of violence prior to their evacuation of Boston, British soldiers cut it down because it bore the name Liberty.
During the ceremony, Senator Glen Shibley presented a Senate resolution naming August 14, 2012, "Liberty Tree Day" in Rhode Island. Liam Cannon also recited the poem, "Liberty Tree" by Thomas Paine.
Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed refreshments in the Town Council Chambers while viewing a presentation on “The Sons of Liberty” by Norm Desmarais of the 2nd RI Regiment.
WRIHS Vice President, Norma Smith explained that the Liberty Tree Society is currently making efforts to re-establish the American Elm by selling trees and planting them at schools. Western Coventry School will become the home of a Liberty Tree next year. A planting at the Paine House on Station Street is also being considered.
Smith also announced that smaller, 3-foot trees (that will grow to about 60 feet tall) may be purchased for $50 at http://www.libertytreesociety.org/Coventry.html to help the cause.