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New Jersey has a rich history way before the founding as a country. As one of the original 13 colonies, New Jersey has often been called the “Cockpit of the American Revolution” based on all of the events that took place in New Jersey during the revolutionary war. Before the war, a small area in Bernards Township was noted as Annin’s Corner. The war changed all that and after the Annin’s and many separatists supported, the town name was renamed “Liberty Corner”. At the center of the town, an iconic wood liberty pole.
During and after the revolutionary war, liberty poles popped up all over the colonies symbolizing the hard fought freedom and served as a reminder to all who fought to secure freedom for all Americans. It was in 1765 when the Sons of Liberty erected their first liberty pole to defy the Stamp Act in Massachusetts. Sir Francis Bernard (to which Bernards Township is named) was heavily involved with the Stamp Act revolt after leaving his NJ governorship in 1760.
After a liberty pole was erected in the village center, typically an ensign was raised (usually red) on the liberty pole, known to be a calling for the Sons of Liberty or townspeople to meet and vent or express their views regarding British rule. The pole was known to be a symbol of dissent against Great Britain. The symbol is also apparent in many seals and coats of arms as a sign of liberty, freedom, and independence and became noted as the most famous liberty pole in the area.
Liberty Corner’s Liberty Pole
At the junction of Lyon’s Road and Church Street has always been the village center of Liberty Corner. What was originally called Bullions Tavern later became a hotel, a carriage stop, a post office and a general store. Dates are vague as to when the liberty pole was errected would have been sometime between 1766 and 1781. The photo below was taken back in 1905 as the Liberty Corner green was graced by the last know liberty pole, a pole that was later removed to make way for a new road triangle and modern flag pole. A WWII memorial was later added. It wasn’t until June 14, 1941 when Louis Annin Ames, president of the Annin Flag Company came back to his family’s home and spoke at the dedication of a new 60 foot steel flag pole and provided a new flag made by the Annin Flag Company. The effort was sourced by the “Liberty Corner Flag Pole Fund.”
What Should Happen Next?
First, the community needs to save the last known liberty pole. Find a new place to put it and share it with the history of the area. Then like in other communities that still have a “Liberty Pole”, have an annual Lighting of the Downtown Liberty Pole and family parade down Church Street down to the pole. July 4 AND the Christmas season. Remember, there’s only one Liberty Corner in the entire United States. Honor the “Liberty Pole.”
- The American Flag Means Annin in Liberty Corner
- Arcadia Book – Basking Ridge – Liberty Corner – Lyons
- It was noted that Liberty Poles in Morristown and Bernardsville were taken down around 1905 as they deteriorated. The were replaced by other local symbolic icons.
Liberty poles symbolized liberty and freedom that dated back to the Roman empire:
A liberty pole is a wooden pole, or sometimes spear or lance, surmounted by a “cap of liberty”, mostly of the Phrygian cap form outside the Netherlands. The symbol originated in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of the Roman dictator Julius Caesar by a group of Rome’s Senators in 44 BC. Immediately after Caesar was killed the assassins, or Liberatores as they called themselves, went through the streets with their bloody weapons held up, one carrying a pileus (a kind of skullcap that identified a freed slave, not in fact a Phrygian cap) carried on the tip of a spear. This symbolized that the Roman people had been freed from the rule of Caesar, which the assassins claimed had become a tyranny because it overstepped the authority of the Senate and thus betrayed the Republic.Wikipedia