An Appeal to Heave Flag Design

"And where the Body of the People, or any single Man, is deprived of their Right, or is under the Exercise of a power without right, and have no Appeal on Earth, there they have a liberty to appeal to Heaven, whenever they judge the Cause of sufficient moment." - John Locke 

In the rich tapestry of American history, few symbols carry the profound weight the "An Appeal to Heaven" flag. This iconic emblem, also known as the Pine Tree flag, holds a special place in the hearts of those who cherish American values and the relentless pursuit of liberty. Let's explore the story, symbolism, and enduring significance of this meaningful flag in our nation's history. proudly sells An Appeal to Heaven flags in stock and ready for immediate purchase. 

George Washington marching into battle George Washington marching into battle

What is the Story Behind the Appeal to Heaven Flag? 

The Appeal to Heaven flag was designed by Colonel Joseph Reed, who served as the personal secretary to George Washington. Originally commissioned for use on six military cruiser ships, the flag was adopted on October 21, 1775. It became the official Massachusetts navy flag in 1776.  

Washington's secretary chose a simple yet impactful design featuring a singular pine tree, a symbol of strength and resiliency within the New England states. The words “An Appeal to Heaven" stretch atop a white field, boldly proclaiming an appeal to God to save the colonists from the King's oppressive ruling. 

Long used on merchant ships, the flag featured an eastern white pine and soon signified colonial resistance to Britain. General Washington chose the tree as a further symbol of independence. He believed that although the colonists were going against a tremendous military force, an even greater power sustained them. They could directly appeal to heaven without an intercessor. 

The Appeal to Heaven flag draws its meaning from the British philosopher John Locke’s "Second Treatise on Civil Government." Written in 1690, the work was a collection of two treatises refuting the belief in the divine rights of monarchs.  

While Locke's writing was popular and often quoted by the colonial leaders of the day, he wasn't the only one voicing these feelings.  

Patrick Henry voiced similar sentiments in his iconic "Liberty or Death" speech, and the Second Continental Congress again invoked an appeal to heaven in their "Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms." 

An Appeal to Heaven Meaning and Flag History 

The Appeal to Heaven flag represents the growing anger of the colonists prior to the American Revolution. No longer were they willing to surrender their freedom to an oppressive English monarch. Instead, they relied on God's power for justice. 

What Did John Locke Mean by an Appeal to Heaven? 

To fully comprehend what John Locke meant by an Appeal to Heaven, it's important to understand the beliefs of the time. There were no international courts, and as a philosopher, Locke theorized that all sovereign nations must have a superior judge to rule over the law of the land.  

Since it was a generally accepted fact that sovereign nations were relative to each other, no human could judge over all of them. The logical conclusion became that only a heavenly judge could decide right from wrong, grant victory, and deliver justice. 

Locke backed his beliefs with excerpts from the Bible, namely Judges 11:27, which states, "May the LORD, the Judge, render judgment this day between the children of Israel and the people of Ammon." 

For the British philosopher, the concept of an appeal to heaven meant that when people face injustice and have no one on Earth to defend them, they must rely on a higher power and even take up arms in the fight for justice. Locke saw this as the only way to protect people's rights when laws and governments fail.  

When a nation lacks clear authority, it enters a "state of nature" and must fight for justice itself. This sentiment would later make itself into the Constitution, ensuring Americans' right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

A pine tree A pine tree

What Does the Pine Tree Represent? 

A pine tree may seem like a peculiar choice for the Appeal to Heaven flag, but it was a powerful symbol of the day.

In the 1700s, an influx of immigrants fleeing England and Europe meant the Northeastern colonies were growing at an impressive rate. New Hampshire quickly became a major trading hub. Its most abundant resource was trees, vital for crafting England’s navy and merchant ships. Not any lumber would do; the ship's masts required strong, tall, and straight wood, and none compared to the Eastern White Pine. 

To ensure England had ample supplies for its ships, King George III and the British Parliament prohibited colonists from chopping down white pine 12" in diameter or larger. That meant settlers could not touch trees even on their own land, as they were the King's property. 

Although this law was in place, the British did not start enforcing it until the winter of 1771, when a crackdown on the use of lumber came into effect. Law enforcement acting on behalf of the British arrested Ebenezer Mudgett, the leader of the Weare mill owners, who then hatched a plan for revenge. This act was the catalyst for the infamous Pine Tree Riot that would pave the way for further acts of rebellion.  

These types of acts would eventually lead to the Revolutionary War and, eventually, the Declaration of Independence. 

What Does an Appeal to Heaven Mean Today? 

Today, the Appeal to Heaven flag transcends its historical origins, resonating as a symbol of resilience, justice, and the unyielding pursuit of liberty. It reminds us of the fundamental values upon which America was built and the ongoing need to safeguard these principles.  

For many, it represents a moral compass, guiding the nation through challenges and inspiring a commitment to a higher cause. Popular among Republicans and Christians, it is seen as a symbol of Christian nationalism, often flying on the National Day of Prayer. In a world where battles for rights and freedoms persist, the legacy of this flag serves as a powerful reminder of the enduring American people and their journey towards a more perfect union. 

An Appeal to Heaven Flag An Appeal to Heaven Flag
An Appeal to Heaven Flag

Purchase an Appeal to Heaven in Heavyweight Nylon is proud to offer our stunning Appeal to Heaven flag in high-grade, heavyweight nylon. Featuring vibrant colors and sturdy brass grommets, you can showcase this historic flag with pride. 

For the perfect way to showcase your pride on the go, reach for our Appeal to Heaven stick flags. These sturdy flags are great for parades, classrooms, and as decor at the home or office. 

For a stunning flagpole display, turn to our lightweight polyester Appeal to Heaven flag. Crafted from 100-denier polyester, it features bright printing and unsurpassed durability for beauty that lasts. proudly offers many historical flags for purchase today!