The Historic Beech Tree
1776 Historic Weeping Beech Hyannis, MAWritten by Alan Taber (Treasures & Temptations) for a Cape Cod Life Article
There are several theories regarding the planting of this magnificent English Weeping Beech tree. The most plausible one is based on historical fact:
Most people believe that the American Revolution started with “the shot heard round the world” in Concord. 1775.In fact, the seeds of the Revolution were sown 14 years earlier by a fiery West Barnstable patriot named James Otis.
As a representative of Massachusetts to the provincial General Court in 1761, Otis proposed a meeting of representatives of all the Colonies. This led to the assembly of The Stamp Act Congress of 1765 which eliminated the taxes on stamps and other goods. John Adams credited Otis with igniting “… the spark by which the child Independence was born.”
Three years later, the British retaliated with the Townshend Act which would tax many goods shipped in from England that America needed but had little of.Once again, James Otis spoke up: “Let Great Britain rescind her measures, or the colonies are lost forever.”
Within a year, he was attacked by British revenue officers and sustained a head wound that “… caused him to lose his mind.”
This was an obvious message to the upstarts of Barnstable.Whether this fear tactic worked is unknown, but it is a fact that Barnstable, in 1776, was the only town on Cape Cod that did not vote for Independence from the Crown.
As legend has it, the Governor of the ‘Cape and Lands’ wished to demonstrate that loyalty would be rewarded and gifted Barnstable with an English Weeping Beech which was ‘to be planted in the center of commerce’, today know as the village of Hyannis.