Keep and Bear Arms
Home Members Login/Join About Us News/Editorials Archives Take Action Your Voice Web Services Free Email
You are 1 of 676 active visitors Thursday, June 01, 2023
Main Email List:

State Email Lists:
Click Here
Join/Renew Online
Join/Renew by Mail
Make a Donation
Magazine Subscriptions
KABA Memorial Fund
Advertise Here
Use KABA Free Email




Keep and Bear Arms - Vote In Our Polls
Do you oppose Biden's anti-gun executive orders?

Current results
Earlier poll results
4632 people voted



» U.S. Gun Laws
» AmeriPAC
» NoInternetTax
» Gun Show On The Net
» 2nd Amendment Show
» SEMPER FIrearms
» Colt Collectors Assoc.
» Personal Defense Solutions



Keep and Bear Arms


Archived Information

Top | Last 30 Days | Search | Add to Archives | Newsletter | Featured Item

"The Liberty Pole"
by John Rich

The Lawyer's Second Amendment Society (LSAS) is an organization dedicated to preserving firearm ownership rights, and they call their newsletter "The Liberty Pole". In their newsletter, along with this title, is a drawing of a pole sticking out of the ground, with a sheet of paper nailed to it, containing the title "Muster", above a list of names.

I never thought much about what a "liberty pole" was, until one day last summer when I was vacationing in Massachusetts, and was walking around the historic town of Concord, where the first battle for American Independence from Britain was fought.

I happened upon a stone wall, in front of a hillside cemetery covered with old gravestones dating from the 1700's. A chiseled stone set in the wall said this:

"On this hill stood the Liberty Pole of the Revolution." 

Well, this reminded me of the LSAS newsletter, and it got me very curious about the exact meaning of the antiquated phrase "liberty pole". Just what was a "liberty pole"? Was it different from an ordinary flagpole? This led me to do much research on the Internet and in the library to satisfy my curiosity. I was very surprised at what I found.

The logical place to start such a search is a dictionary, and this is what it reveals as a definition; "a tall flagstaff surmounted by a liberty cap or the flag of a republic and set up as a symbol of liberty." 

The story of the Liberty Pole begins back around 1765. The Sons of Liberty was an organization started by Samuel Adams to protest British taxes, and their membership grew rapidly in the colonies. They rallied around town Liberty Poles, and flew their flag from the pole, which consisted of nine vertical stripes of alternating red and white. They tended to meet at night to avoid the attention of British officials. Their goal was to organize public opinion and coordinate patriotic actions against Great Britain. 

The Sons of Liberty were in the habit of meeting under a large tree, which were present in most village greens, and these came to be known as the "Liberty Tree". However, in towns that lacked a tree big enough, the patriots would erect a tall pole instead, as a symbol of a Liberty Tree, which naturally, was then called a "Liberty Pole". 

From my various readings, the Liberty Pole was usually located in the town square, consisted of a tall straight pole sometimes over 100 feet in height, which served as a central meeting place for townsfolk, and also served as a symbol of resistance to the British.

In New York City, where the first battles of the Revolutionary War were fought, there was an ongoing seesaw "battle" over the Liberty Pole. The patriots would erect one, and the British would chop it down. This symbolic exercise continued back and forth. But then on Aug. 11, 1776, things finally turned violent. British soldiers, angry with the colonists for not complying with the Quartering Act, attacked the pole and cut it down (The Quartering Act required colonists to house British soldiers in their private homes, which later led to the writing of the 3rd Amendment to the Constitution). Upon hearing of this, two to three thousand unhappy patriots rallied at the Commons, and British troops arrived to disperse them. The patriots started throwing pieces of brick at the British, which responded with a bayonet attack, wounding several Americans. 

In Concord, Massachusetts, the marauding British burned the town Liberty Pole, along with several houses in the town. These acts prompted the local militia to move to intercede against the British troops, and led to the "shot heard round the world" which began the active revolutionary war. 

Near Reading, Pennsylvania, there was an influential farmer named Epply -- a member of the "Liberty Boys" militia in the area -- who erected a Liberty Pole in front of his house. When the local British commander heard of this defiance, he ordered a Captain Slow to go out and cut down the offending pole. But when Capt. Slow arrived, he was much surprised to find upwards of one hundred riflemen guarding the Liberty Pole. Capt. Slow abandoned his efforts that day. 

Liberty Poles were often decorated in certain ways to symbolize various forms of resistance to the British. For example, in Englewood, New Jersey, in 1776, a liberty pole was erected with a "Liberty Cap" to celebrate the repeal of the Stamp Act. The "Liberty Cap" was a soft, limp, red, close-fitting cap which was worn on the head of representations of the goddess of liberty. The origin of the cap was from the Phrygian cap worn by freed slaves during the Roman Empire. In America, it symbolized opposition to Federalism, and the Federalists would therefore try and remove the Liberty Cap from the Liberty Pole. 

In protest of British taxes, some stamp tax agents were tarred and feathered, and in at least one case, a tax agent was strung-up by the seat of his pants from a Liberty Pole. 

In Savannah, Georgia, in open defiance of British authority, British cannons assembled for the King's birthday were spiked and rolled into the river, a Liberty Pole erected, and a British sailor tarred, feathered and forced to kiss the pole. 

In the town of Homses Hole, near Boston, the colonists had an especially tall, thick Liberty Pole. It was so fine, as a matter of fact, that the captain of the British ship Unicorn told the city leaders that he wanted to buy their Liberty Pole and use it as a new mast for his ship. He also stated that if they did not agree to sell it to him, he would consider it an act of rebellion, and would fire upon the town. The townsfolk agreed upon a price, and the captain said he would return the next day with a crew to retrieve the Liberty Pole. However, several small girls had other plans. They borrowed an auger from their father's carpenter shop, drilled several holes in the pole, packed it with gunpowder, and used the hem of their petticoats for wadding. They lit their fuse, and blew the pole to smithereens. The British ship captain returned the next day to find nothing but splinters remaining of what was to be his fine new mast. 

Today, there is a town in Wisconsin named "Liberty Pole", and in Massachusetts, there is an area south of Boston referred to as the "Liberty Pole area". Additionally, numerous streets are named "Liberty Pole" in many different cities. 

Several Revolutionary War reenactment groups have an annual ceremony where they raise and cap a Liberty Pole, such as in Norwichtown Green, Connecticut, and in Bedford, Massachusetts. 

So, the next time you have the need to use the word "flagpole" in a conversation, substitute the word "Liberty Pole" instead. Odds are, someone will ask you why you chose that word, and then you'll get to tell them this great story of how American patriots used the Liberty Pole as a symbol of their spirit of freedom from British tyranny.

Other History Lessons


Printer Version

To trust arms in the hands of the people at large has, in Europe, been be an experiment fraught only with danger. Here by a long trial it has been proved to be perfectly harmless...If the government be equitable; if it be reasonable in its exactions; if proper attention be paid to the education of children in knowledge and religion, few men will be disposed to use arms, unless for their amusement, and for the defence of themselves and their country. Timothy Dwight, Travels in New England and New York [London 1823]

COPYRIGHT POLICY: The posting of copyrighted articles and other content, in whole or in part, is not allowed here. We have made an effort to educate our users about this policy and we are extremely serious about this. Users who are caught violating this rule will be warned and/or banned.
If you are the owner of content that you believe has been posted on this site without your permission, please contact our webmaster by following this link. Please include with your message: (1) the particulars of the infringement, including a description of the content, (2) a link to that content here and (3) information concerning where the content in question was originally posted/published. We will address your complaint as quickly as possible. Thank you.

NOTICE:  The information contained in this site is not to be considered as legal advice. In no way are Keep And Bear Arms .com or any of its agents responsible for the actions of our members or site visitors. Also, because this web site is a Free Speech Zone, opinions, ideas, beliefs, suggestions, practices and concepts throughout this site may or may not represent those of Keep And Bear Arms .com. All rights reserved. Articles that are original to this site may be redistributed provided they are left intact and a link to is given. Click here for Contact Information for representatives of is the leading provider of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and digital certificate solutions used by enterprises, Web sites, and consumers to conduct secure communications and transactions over the Internet and private networks., Inc. © 1999-2023, All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy