Our Liberty Tree

In honor of Phyllis Schlafly on her birthdate.

Our Liberty Tree

August 15, 2017

By Anne Schlafly Cori, Chairman, Eagle Forum

The Liberty Tree in Boston was a symbol of the American Revolution. The Sons of Liberty, including Samuel Adams and Paul Revere, gathered under Liberty Trees to express their vision for a new country and the Liberty Tree represented their aspirations.

Wye Oak planted by Phyllis Schlafly

My mother, Phyllis Schlafly, loved trees, especially big, glorious old trees. Trees symbolized growth and stability and she loved watching them green out in the spring and turn to orange, yellow, and brown in the fall.

One tree, in particular, captured her heart. President Ronald Reagan appointed her to serve on the Commission for the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. Phylis Schlafly had protected the integrity of our Constitution by spearheading the effort to defeat an amendment that would have fundamentally changed our country (Equal Rights Amendment). She was passionate about the freedoms expressed in our unique Constitution and the genius of the men who hammered out the foundation of America. Celebrating 200 years of the Constitution in 1987 was a highlight in her illustrious life.

Part of the celebration was the Commission’s order to plant thousands of commemorative Liberty Trees in honor of and lasting tribute to the Constitution. At one of the celebratory events, the Commissioners were given seedlings from the Wye Oak tree in Wye Mills, Maryland. That massive 460-year-old tree was the oldest white oak in the United States and is the state tree of Maryland. The Wye Oak was felled by a storm and died in 2002; it stood 96 feet tall with a circumference of over 31 feet.

Phyllis did her part and planted a Wye Oak seedling in Alton, Illinois. The local deer population did everything they could to take down this young tree. They failed. A committed gardener protected the tree with doses of rhino dung and coyote urine to shoo away the deer, plus many truckloads of mulch. This glorious 30-year-old tree now stands, over 30 feet tall, as a monument to our U.S. Constitution and the liberties and freedoms enshrined.

Our Constitution is a beautiful document extolling the rights of the people and limiting the overreach of the federal government. As these Liberty Trees grow over many generations, they symbolize the deep roots of our Constitution and the glorious protections provided by the wide canopy.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Phyllis Schlafly, who would have turned 93 years today, dedicated her life to protecting and promoting Liberty Trees.