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History of the Pine Tree Flag
The Pine Tree Flag, also known as the flag of Washington’s Cruisers, bares the inscription on it of An Appeal to Heaven on a white background, along with a representation of the Tree of Liberty in the center. The flag bares a strong association with the ideals of Natural Law. This flag was commissioned by George Washington and was flown from the first 6 cruisers of the US Navy and then quickly gained popularity among the colonists.
The Pine Tree
Enforcement led to the Pine Tree Riot in New Hampshire in 1772. A statue had been in effect since 1722, which was the protection of 12-inch diameter trees. A New Hampshire mill owner, who refused to pay for possessing protected trees, assaulted the Sheriff & Deputy, along with other mill owners & townsmen. The Sheriff & Deputy were given one lash with a tree branch for every tree the mill owners were fined for. They also cut the ears, manes, and tails off their horses, and forced them out of town through a jeering crowd. This was one of the first acts of forceful protest against British policies. It occurred almost two years prior to the more well-known Boston Tea Party protest and three years before open hostilities began at the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
An Appeal to Heaven
The phrase is a particular expression of the right of revolution used by British philosopher John Locke in Second Treatise on Civil Government, which was published in 1690 as part of Two Treatises of Government refuting the theory of the divine right of kings. Locke’s works were well-known and frequently quoted by colonial leaders, being the most quoted authority on the government in the 1760-1776 period, prior to American independence.
Prior to Colonel Reed’s suggestion and Massachusetts General Court establishing the Pine Tree flag as the standard of the Massachusetts navy, “an appeal to Heaven” or similar expressions had been invoked by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress in several resolutions; Patrick Henry in his Liberty or Death speech, and the Second Continental Congress in the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms.
Just after the battles of Lexington and Concord, the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts made an address to their brethren in England in which occurred the following sentence: “Appealing to Heaven for the justice of our cause, we determine to die or be free.”