Mariya Filimonova, Doctor of Historic Sciences, State University of Kursk, city of Kursk


The Tree is one of iconic symbols, common in all cultures of the world. Its high vertical trunk can symbolize the Axis Mundi. The crown may be associated with the upper world, a shelter of deities or spirits. The renewal of spring foliage connects the tree with the idea of death and resurrection, and fertility. The emergence of the state adds political dimension to the symbolism of trees. The beginning of the revolutionary process in the colonies resulted in reformatting political symbols. The symbolism of trees changed, too. In America there were «trees of liberty» and «liberty poles». They became a symbol of protest, a meeting place for patriots and a place of punishment for the supporters of the metropolis (the loyalists). An ancient agricultural symbol has become a symbol of the revolutionary renewal of society.
The article examines how real trees, turned into a symbol of freedom, and the use of the image of the tree in the texts of the American revolution. The author also studies the parallel symbol of the «liberty poles». The appearance of the studied symbols, their main functions in the mobilization of mass protests and their spread beyond the United States are described. The source base includes the journals of the Continental Congress, materials of the ratification conventions, epistolary and diary materials, literary works.

American revolution, history of symbols, «liberty tree»

Full text


1. BABEUF, G. (1975–1982) Sochinenija. Moskwa: Nauka.
2. Volshebnye sushhestva: Jenciklopedija (2005). SPb.: Azbuka-klassika.
3. GRIGULEVICH, I. (1976). Fransisko de Miranda i bor’ba za nezavisimost’ ispanskoj Ameriki. Moskwa: Nauka.
4. JEFFERSON, T. (1992). Tomas Dzhefferson o demokratii. SPb.: Lenizdat.
5. De JOINVILLE, J. (2012). Kniga blagochestivyh rechenij i dobryh dejanij nashego svjatogo korolja Ljudovika. SPb.: Evrazija.
6. ZELENIN, D. (1937). Totemy-derev’ja v skazanijah i obrjadah evropejskih narodov. Moskwa–Leningrad: AN SSSR.
7. COOPER, J. (1961–1963). Izbrannye sochinenija v shesti tomah. Moskwa: Detgiz.
8. Pesni Pervoj francuzskoj revoljucii (1934). Moskwa–Leningrad: Academia.
9. Revoljucii 1848–1849 gg. (1952). Moskwa: AN SSSR.
10. TOGOEVA, O. (2006). «Istinnaja pravda». Jazyki srednevekovogo pravosudija. Moskwa: Nauka
11. SHATOHINA-MORDVINCEVA, G. (2013). Severnye Niderlandy v jepohu napoleonovskih vojn: ot Batavskoj respubliki k korolevstvu Niderlandov. Novaja i novejshaja istorija. 5, P. 146–164.
12. JAMPOL’SKIJ, M. (2004). Fiziologija simvolicheskogo. Kniga 1. Vozvrashhenie Leviafana. Moskwa: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie.
13. «Account of the Attempts made to cut down the Liberty-Pole». The New-York Gazette and Weekly Postboy. Febr. 5, 1770. [Online] Available from: (Accessed: January 21, 2017).
14. ADAMS, S. (1968). Writings: 4 vols. New York: Octagon Books.
15. Boston Evening Post. Sept. 2, 1765.
16. BRACKENRIDGE, H. (1851). Modern Chivalry. Philadelphia.
17. CLINTON, G. (1900) Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1804: 10 vols. New York: AMS Press.
18. DOWNER, S. (1918). Discourse, delivered in Providence, in the colony of Rhode Island, on the 25th day of July, 1768. At the dedication of the tree of liberty, from the summer house in the tree [Reprinted from the 1768 Providence edition.] Tarrytown, New York.
19. Edinburgh Evening Courant. June 7, 1769.
20. HILLIARD D’AUBERTEUIL, M. (1781). Essais historiques et politiques sur les Anglo-Américains. Bruxelles.
21. FORD, W. (ed.) (1904–1937) Journals of the Continental Congress. 1774–1789: 34 vols. Washington, D.C.
22. LEAKE, I. (1857) Memoir of the Life and Times of General John. Bedford, Mass.
23. SMITH, P. (ed.) (1976–2000) Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789: 26 vols. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress.
24. Maryland Gazette. Mar. 25, 1788.
25. MORLEY, J. (1999). Liberty Tree Is Felled. The Washington Post. Oct. 25.
26. MULCAHY, L. (2010). Legal Architecture: Justice, Due Process and the Place of Law. Rutledge.
27. OLIVER, P. (1967) Peter Oliver’s Origin & Progress of the American Rebellion: A Tory View. Stanford: The Huntington Library.
28. Paul Lunt’s Diary. May – December, 1775. (1872). Boston.
29. Pennsylvania Evening Post. Sept. 16, 1775.
30. Pennsylvania Gazette. Febr. 9, 1774.
31. THACHER, J. (1827). A Military Journal During the American Revolutionary War: From 1775 to 1783. Boston.
32. ELLIOT, J. (ed.) (1836) The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution. 4 vols. Washington, D.C.
33. The New-England Chronicle or the Essex Gazette. Aug. 24–31, 1775.
34. Battle of the Kegs, 1778 (2014) [Online] – Available from: (Accessed: September 30, 2017).
35. WASHINGTON, G. (1931–1944) The Writings from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745–1799: 39 vols. Washington, D.C.
36. YOUNG, A. (2006) Liberty Tree: Ordinary People and the American Revolution. N.Y.: New York University Press.

DOI: 198