The American Revolution began in Boston.
Between 2015 and 2026, Boston has the opportunity to commemorate the 250th anniversaries of events that led to the War for Independence—from the dedication of the first “Liberty Tree” in August 2015 to the reading of the Declaration of Independence from the Old State House in July 2026.
These commemorations are an opportunity to bring together Boston’s communities and engage Boston residents and visitors in conversations about the roots of self-government and the relevance of liberty for Americans today.
The first event of the American Revolution was the gathering of Bostonians under the “Liberty Tree” from August 14th–27th 1765. Today the site of the Liberty Tree is an overlooked and underutilized plaza at the corner of Washington and Essex Streets, but during those two weeks, 250 years ago, the site bristled with ordinary people calling for political change and arguing over what shape that change should take.
The Liberty Tree Project is a public art event conceived by Michael Dowling of Medicine Wheel Productions joining with community members from Ostiguy High School, Boston Asian: Youth Essential Service, St. Francis House, South Boston en Accion and the Museum of African American History along with historians from various sites in Boston. Drawing on the Revolutionary-era tradition of illuminating the Liberty Tree with lanterns, we are creating 108 copper lanterns with unique handcrafted sleeves stamped with images carved by members of the five community groups.
On August 14th these community groups along with members of the Boston History Community and with the support of the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District will carry the illuminated lanterns from different points in the city to Liberty Tree Plaza in commemoration of the voices and actions of ordinary Bostonians 250 years ago and as testimony to liberty’s enduring importance in our lives today. Digital projections of images and quotes from the Revolutionary era and today will give historic resonance to our understanding of liberty and will underscore the importance of constructive civic dialogue to contemporary American society.
This project was made possible with support from Boston National Historical Park and Eastern National and the Boston Cultural Council.