What Is the State Tree of Connecticut? Facts & History
Connecticut is known for its rich foliage and massive contribution to American culture. It’s only befitting for such a thriving and culture-rich state to have a state tree that represents it to the fullest.
Connecticut’s state tree is the white oak, a massive hardwood common in central and eastern North America. Interestingly, the tree’s bark is light gray with white, denoting the color of its unfinished wood. Here’s everything you need to know about the tree and how it became Connecticut’s state tree.
The Story of the Charter Oak
How the white oak became the state tree of Connecticut is the stuff of legend. As early as 1637, Connecticut was under British rule. In 1662, King Charles II of England granted the state a Royal Charter after being persuaded by Governor Winthrop. That meant that the state had the right to self-government.
Unfortunately, his predecessor, King James II, had different plans for the state and sent his representatives to seize the royal charter. But the people of Connecticut would not go down without a fight.
One October evening in 1667, Edmund Andros, the then governor, arrived at the little town of Hartford to collect the charter on behalf of the crown. The state’s leaders, Sir Edmund and his entourage, sat down at Butlers Tavern and, even after a lengthy discussion, could not agree.
Whether planned or not, one event changed the course of history: the candles went off. When the light was finally restored, the charter which had been on the table all that while was nowhere to be seen! While the exact details of what transpired are not clear, a gentleman named Captain Joseph Wadsworth laid his hands on the charter and hid it inside a white oak.
For 150 years, the tree held its secret, and many people forgot about it. It was not until August 21, 1856, when the mighty white oak fell, that the Royal Charter was discovered. As a result, the tree was named the Charter Oak.
To preserve the role it had played in the state’s history, artifacts were made out of its wood and are on display to date. The tree also appears on the commemorative state square to preserve its memory.
The State Tree
Efforts to make the white oak the state tree in Connecticut began in 1922 with the formation of the Connecticut Tree Protective Association. It is this association that petitioned the general assembly to adopt the white oak as the official state tree.
A house bill was introduced in 1947, and the governor signed legislation that year that made the white oak the official state tree of Connecticut.
The white oak is definitely a great player in the history of the state of Connecticut, and no tree was more befitting to hold the title of the state’s official tree. If you visit Hartford, be sure to visit the Charter Oak monument. This was unveiled in 1905, where the tree once stood. You might also want to visit the State Capitol building to see the Charter Oak Chair, which was made from this famous tree.
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