History of the Liberty Bell
According to old American tradition, the Liberty Bell let out a chime that changed the world on July 8, 1776. The bell summoned citizens of Philadelphia as it rang from the tower of Independence Hall. The citizens of Philadelphia would become the first to hear the public reading of the Declaration of Independence by Colonel John Nixon.
The bell was ordered in 1751 as a memorial to the 1701 Charter of Privileges written by William Penn. What Mr. Penn wrote was the idea of freedom, expression, and religious freedom. The Bell was ordered from the Whitechapel Foundry with instructions for inscribing.
Few realize that a second bell was ordered and arrived from England after the first one completely broke. It was attempted to be repaired, and left in the Statehouse steeple. The second bell, however, was placed in the cupola on the State House roof and attached to a clock to sound each hour. The Bell was rung to call Assembly together and summon citizens for special announcements.
A Symbol of Freedom
Abolitionists during their struggles to end slavery used the Liberty Bell as a symbol of their freedom. The Bible verse Leviticus 25:10 is engraved on the Bell, “Proclaim Liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
The first famous crack in the Bell is disputed as small unseen cracks generally emerge before a full crack takes over. It is agreed that the small cracks expansion finished itself in 1846 leaving the Bell unable to be chimed ever again.
The Bell’s truly famous status came with the abolitionists adopted it as their symbol. The New York Anti-Slavery Society published its relevance as their symbol in an 1837 article in the “Liberty” newspaper. The abolitionists were the ones who originally called it “Liberty Bell.” The Bell was still known as the “State House Bell” until William Lloyd Garrison wrote the first documented publication entitled “The Liberty Bell” published in the publication, “The Liberator.”
Freeing of Slavery
The Liberty Bell makes for a fitting metaphor for a country torn or cracked by the issue of slavery. Another line on the Bell states, “It shall be a jubilee unto you, and ye shall return every man unto his family.” This statement was taken as the Bible declaring God wanted slaves and prisoners to be freed every 50 years.
After the Civil War, Americans adopted the Liberty Bell as one of their symbols for unity. The Liberty Bell Center was opened in October 2003. Every 4th of July descendants of Declaration signers symbolically ring the bell to commemorate freedom.
The Liberty Bell is open to the public. Be sure to pay a visit to one of America’s pieces of history on your next trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. To find more information such as hours and events, go HERE.