Sunday, February 5, 2012

Appeal to Heaven

Among the more than 200 flags owned by the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York that are exhibited at Fraunces Tavern Museum in New York City is this banner with its decidedly faithful message.

This flag, Appeal to Heaven, was the official symbol of Gen. George Washington's fleet from 1775. It is on display in the Kathryn & Shelby Cullom Davis Education Center for American History at Fraunces Tavern Museum in Manhattan.

The marker next to the flag reads:

Washington's Armed Vessels

This flag was the official symbol of General George Washington's fleet of armed vessels. The fleet consisted of about six schooners which he armed at his own expense in 1775. The tree is the symbol of the Revolution in the north. It is modeled after the tree in which the Sons of Liberty rallied under named 'The Liberty Tree.' This flag was later adopted by the Massachusetts Navy in 1777.

I happened upon this flag almost accidentally one night last month. I was honored to have been the first guest lecturer of 2012 in Fraunces' Special Evening Lecture series, and stumbled upon the flag while looking for a place to drop my coat. Of course I immediately thought of all of you, and snapped the photo. (I'll polish up that lecture, and share it here as well eventually.)

Speaking of Patriots, it's almost Super Bowl kick-off time. Go Giants!

1 comment:

J. L. Bell said...

“Appeal to Heaven” is a phrase from John Locke. There are some written descriptions of this flag from 1775, but no surviving examples, so this is a guess at what it looked like.

Most of those descriptions indeed say the flag contained a pine tree. As such, it could not have been modeled on the Sons of Liberty’s Liberty Tree in Boston, which was an elm. It may have been a symbol of New England; the schooners’ flag evolved out of a flag that Gen. Israel Putnam’s troops used early in the siege of Boston.