By Christine Shaw
On the morning of August 14, 1765, the people of Boston awakened to discover two effigies suspended from an elm tree in protest of the hated Stamp Act. From that day forward, that elm became known as the Liberty Tree. For the next 10 years, it stood in silent witness to countless meetings, speeches and celebrations, and often served as the rallying place for the Sons of Liberty. In August 1775, as a last act of violence prior to their evacuation of Boston, British Soldiers cut it down because it bore the name Liberty.
-- Elm Research Institute
On Thursday an American Liberty elm, named after the liberty tree of the 1700s, set down roots on the Ohio University-Zanesville campus green at a public ceremony to commemorate Zanesville's designation as one of the Elm Research Institute's 100 Liberty Tree Memorial towns. Fittingly, the elm settled into its new home just a day before Arbor Day, a nationally celebrated observance that encourages tree planting and care.
"The university has been at the forefront of promoting quality green space, having developed the Collegial Woods passive park," said Dan Sylvester of the Zanesville Shade Tree Commission. "So it works out well to have the tree planted on the campus." The commission and the Zanesville Litter Prevention and Recycling office are co-sponsoring the event.
The Elm Research Institute is a New Hampshire-based non-profit organization established in 1967 to rally support for research regarding Dutch elm disease, which destroyed more than 100 million elms since the 1930s, many of them dating from the 1700s. Each year the institute provides free disease-resistant American Liberty elm trees to plant in a public location in 100 towns across the U.S., symbolizing freedom.
"It is an honor to be chosen as a location and to have the tree planted on our campus for posterity," said James Fonseca, dean at Ohio University-Zanesville. "It is important to be a role model for the community to promote environmental activities and to recognize the history for which the Liberty Tree stands."
In addition to the tree planting, a bronze plaque and bench at the site will commemorate Zanesville as a Liberty Tree Memorial town. The ceremony included a reading of "Liberty Tree," a poem by Thomas Paine.