The Charter Oak, copy after original by Charles de Wolf Brownell, c. 1857, lithograph, unknown accession, 0000.99.358.38.
According to legend, the Charter Oak, an unusually large white oak tree, hid Connecticut’s Royal Charter of 1662 in its hollow to avoid confiscation by the English governor-general. The charter gave the people of Connecticut a clear legal basis for their colony and gave them a degree of self-government from the English. Thus, the oak became a symbol of American independence. Although the tree was destroyed during a violent storm in 1856, its legacy continues as the recovered lumber from the tree was later used to make several chairs and desks that remain in Hartford’s capital building today.