Age of Revolutions

By Shira Lurie

On May 21, 1766, when word reached New York City that Parliament had repealed the Stamp Act, colonists poured onto the Common and raised a wooden mast with a sign that read “George 3rd, Pitt – and Liberty.”[i] The liberty pole, as it came to be known, served as a rallying point for the Sons of Liberty – they gathered at its base to discuss imperial taxation, non-importation, and the presence of British soldiers in the city. The redcoats further politicized the liberty pole when they tore it down that August. This action led to a back and forth of erecting and destroying liberty poles that lasted years, ultimately culminating in the Battle of Golden Hill, which preceded the Boston Massacre by six weeks.[ii]

Similar events took place thirty-three years later in 1799. After the Adams administration passed the Sedition Law, making it a crime…

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