Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Liberty Bell

On July 8, 1776 the Liberty Bell rang to mark the reading of the Declaration of Independence.

The Liberty Bell inscription: Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof Lev. XXV X By Order of the ASSEMBLY of the Province of PENSYLVANIA [sic] for the State House in Philada.

Pass and Stow Philada MDCCLIII (1753)

A bell for the Pennsylvania State House was cast in London, England, however, it cracked soon after it arrived in Philadelphia. Local craftsmen John Pass and John Stow cast a new bell in 1753, using metal from the English bell. Their names appear on the front of the bell, along with the city and the date. By 1846 a thin crack began to affect the sound of the bell. The bell was repaired in 1846 and rang for a George Washington birthday celebration, but the bell cracked again and has not been rung since. No one knows why the bell cracked either time.

The bell weighs about 2000 pounds. It is made of 70% copper, 25% tin, and small amounts of lead, zinc, arsenic, gold, and silver. It hangs from what is believed to be its original yoke, made from American elm, also known as slippery elm.

The old State House bell was first called the "Liberty Bell" by a group trying to outlaw slavery. These abolitionists remembered the words on the bell and, in the 1830s, adopted it as a symbol of their cause.

The Liberty BellBeginning in the late 1800s, the Liberty Bell traveled around the country to expositions and fairs to help heal the divisions of the Civil War. It reminded Americans of their earlier days when they fought and worked together for independence.

In 1915, the bell made its last trip and came home to Philadelphia, where it now silently reminds us of the power of liberty. For more than 200 years people from around the world have felt the bell's message. No one can see liberty, but people have used the Liberty Bell to represent this important idea.

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TEXT CREDIT: Independence National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service)

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