South Carolina Forestry Commission
News Release

December 3, 2007

Pearl Harbor Day/Arbor Day to Coincide

Marked by governorís proclamation and unique tree dedication at Statehouse liberty tree

(Columbia, SC) --The South Carolina Forestry Commission in cooperation with the Richland County Arbor Day Committee will dedicate a tree on Statehouse grounds on Friday, December 7.  To mark the significance of Arbor Day falling on Pearl Harbor Day, a special tree that literally traces its roots to the founding of the country has been chosen!

The Liberty Tree (a 15ft Tulip Poplar) was grown from a seed collected from the last survivor of the original Liberty Trees which were used as meeting places by colonists calling for America’s independence.  That last original tree was felled in Maryland in 1999 by Hurricane Floyd.  But it lives on today through its descendant which will be dedicated Friday at the South Carolina Statehouse.  The site was selected to recognize South Carolina’s connection to the founding of the principles of freedom in the United States and for the protection its landscape provides, allowing the tree to flourish in scale and stature.

The ceremony will begin at 11am on the west lawn (Assembly Street side).  The program includes a proclamation from the governor, a reading of the poem, Liberty Tree, by Thomas Paine, and the dedication of the tree itself.  Some of South Carolina’s surviving Pearl Harbor Veterans will be honored too.

Arbor Day is considered the kick-off to South Carolina’s forestry tree planting season.  Forest landowners annually plant 80-100 million tree seedlings statewide.

South Carolina’s first Arbor Day was declared by Governor Burnet Maybank in 1939.  The Arbor Day concept was first introduced in Nebraska in 1872.


Proclamation (pdf)



For more information, contact Scott Hawkins (803)360-2231.


South Carolina’s Liberty Tree

Trees are witnesses to history and symbols of strength and endurance. The idea of Liberty embodied in a living tree came from Boston in 1765, when a club calling itself the " Sons of Liberty” met under an elm to hear speeches against the Stamp Act, a tax on newspapers and official documents. The "Sons of Liberty" commissioned silversmith Paul Revere to design a medal for its members that bore the image and the caption "Liberty Tree”. Each colony chose a particular tree to rally under for freedom from tyranny. The British were so disgusted by these trees that they were known to have purposefully searched for and destroyed them.

South Carolina’s iconic tree in Charleston was so reviled that after chopping down, the British took the trouble to burn and hack apart the stump until virtually no trace remained. After the Revolution, a judge named William Johnson dug up the root of the South Carolina tree, and had it made into the heads of walking canes – one of which was given to then President Thomas Jefferson.

The last-standing Liberty Tree, a Tulip Poplar, was lost to Hurricane Floyd in 1999 from the grounds of St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD. The Providence Forum and American Forests salvaged the wood and propagated 14 seedlings from the fallen Maryland liberty tree, with the idea of planting one in each of the original colonies as well as on the grounds of the White House as symbols of liberty.

Today, on Arbor Day, December 7, 2007, South Carolina dedicates a new Liberty Tree, propagated from the Maryland tree. The tree is located on the west lawn of the South Carolina State House in Columbia. The Capitol site was selected to mark South Carolina’s connection to the founding of the principles of freedom in the United States and for the protection its landscape provides, allowing the tree to flourish in scale and stature.
The conservation of trees as a valuable natural resource serves to enhance South Carolina by reducing air pollution, stabilizing soils, reducing water pollution by absorbing pollutants, enhancing property values, reducing noise and visual pollution, providing protection from the sun by reducing glare and by shading buildings and parking lots, and enhancing the aesthetics and general quality of life in the state.

The Liberty Tree program is made possible by American Forests, The Providence Forum and Taylor Guitars.  South Carolina’s Arbor Day celebration is sponsored by the SC Forestry Commission, Richland County, City of Columbia, City of Forest Acres, Fort Jackson, Keep the Midlands Beautiful, Richland County Appearance Commission, Richland County Conservation Commission, Richland Conservation District, Clemson Extension Service and Friends of Congaree.



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