Branches of liberty

Cloning history: Maryland can be proud to give other 49 states a symbol that stems to colonial times.

June 09, 1999

EVERY STATE deserves to have a piece of the history that Maryland has enjoyed for centuries: a Liberty Tree of its own.

And now, Maryland can be proud that a confluence of history and genetics makes that possible.

The majestic tulip poplar on the campus of St. John's College in Annapolis is the sole survivor among the Liberty Trees that American revolutionaries gathered under in each colony to protest British rule with song and oratory.

The British saw Liberty Trees as threatening, powerful symbols after Thomas Paine's prose glorified the sprawling giants in 1775. Redcoats chopped down Liberty Trees in 12 colonies, but resistance turned back the attempt to take an ax to Maryland's branches.

Modern science enables Maryland to propagate this history tree throughout the nation. Scientists have clipped shoots from the state's Liberty Tree, the first step in the delicate process of cloning the 400-year-old plant.

Maryland will send reproduced trees to the Liberty Tree-less 49 states as part of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's Maryland Commission for Celebration 2000, providing the other states with a symbol of freedom that some Marylanders have long taken for granted.

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