What is it?
The ‘Appeal to Heaven’ flag is also known as The Tree Flag or even ‘An Appeal to God’ flag. It is typically a white flag, with black lettering at the top, and it features a pine tree under the words. The ‘An Appeal to Heaven’ slogan was one of the sayings associated with the American Revolution. Some others are ‘all men are created equal’, ‘give me liberty or give me death’, and ‘don’t tread on me’.
The meaning & creator
The main conclusion of the ‘An Appeal to Heaven’ slogan and flag is that people have rights that cannot be infringed upon by the government and that sometimes, rebellion is justified if it is to defend those rights. It is typically flown to show who a person is – a person who does not look to men or government for approval, but lives by the principle of their convictions and appeals to the Almighty for protection, provision, and justice.
The design of this flag came from General Washington’s secretary, Colonel Joseph Reed. The phrase ‘Appeal to Heaven’ was first used by a British philosopher John Locke in the Second Treatise of Civil Government, published in 1690 as part of a disproving of the right of kings.
Why a pine tree?
The pine tree was a New England symbol, but leading up to the Revolutionary War, it became a symbol of Colonial anger and resistance. The colonies were against the restrictions on timber used for their needs and ways of living. New England’s eastern white pine was prized in the colonial ship building industry – for its height and quality. Those trees met England’s military and commercial needs for sailing ship masts. England decided to include a mast-preservation clause to claim rights on an unlimited number of trees inland that the King’s men could take.
Those trees were marked with a broad arrow symbol, making it called the ‘Broad Arrow Act‘. This act caused a huge resentment against the crown that it helped start the Revolutionary War. That policy was never truly effectively enforced, so colonists cut pines for sale on the black market. Colonists adopted the pine tree as a symbol on flags and currency in the 17th century. The white pine was placed on the ‘An Appeal to Heaven’ flag to remind the colonies of the overreach of the government.
Did you know?
- In New Hampshire, the enforcement of restrictions on pine trees led to the Pine Tree Riot in 1772, which was one of the first acts of forceful protest against British policies.
- Along with being called the ‘An Appeal to Heaven’ flag, it was also called ‘The Pine Tree Flag’ and ‘The Washington Cruisers Flag’
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What does an appeal to heaven mean?
Locke’s “appeal to heaven” is thus an appeal to the earthliest means of all—the sword—trusting that God will vindicate the injured party and ensure the defeat of the guilty. Whether Locke in fact trusted in this, or simply used it as a pious metaphor, is certainly open to question.
Where does the appeal to heaven flag come from?
The Tree Flag, featuring a pine tree with the motto “An Appeal to Heaven” or sometimes “An Appeal to God” was used originally by a squadron of six cruiser ships commissioned under George Washington’s authority as commander in chief of the Continental Army in October 1775
What does the pine tree flag represent?
Ships were often built using pine trees. And during the American Revolution, the Pine Tree Flag was displayed on ships, such as those commissioned by George Washington. Regardless, the Pine Tree Flag symbolizes independence and resistance against Britain.
What is the white flag with a tree?
The Pine Tree flag, also known as “An Appeal to Heaven,” flag has become a lasting American history image. This simple pine tree design is one of the first – not originally a flag of the American Revolution, but one used since the 1600s to represent the British Colonies, especially Massachusetts.