History Of The Liberty Bell In Philadelphia, PA

The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, PA is a symbol of freedom and liberty for all. There are many interesting happenings in the history of the Liberty Bell which lead to even greater reason to celebrate the blessings our anscestors have given us.

The Liberty Bell is a symbol of freedom. Its history is not always clear but there are many important facts that are known about this wonderful symbol of freedom. Talks about the Liberty bell are presented continuously and audio tapes in 16 foreign languages can be played upon request. The Liberty Bell is currently housed in the Liberty Bell pavilion on Market Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Liberty Bell pavilion was constructed in preparation for the bicentennial celebration in 1976. The bell is now symbolically rung by a tapping of the bell each Fourth of July along with the ringing of other bells throughout the nation.

What is not as well known is that the bell was not given the term Liberty Bell until the 1830's. The term Liberty Bell was used along with a rendering of the bell in abolitionists papers. The abolitionists adopted the bell as their symbol for the movement based upon the words inscribed on the bell. The bell is often now considered an icon for liberty and freedom.

Bells were a very important part of colonial life. They were used to summon people for a variety of reasons from fighting fires to hearing the latest proclamation. On July 8, 1776, the bell, which was then hanging in the tower of what is now known as Independence Hall, was rang to summon the townsfolk to hear Colonel John Nixon read the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. This is possibly the single most well known event that was associated with the bell.



The bell has had a very rocky life. It was commissioned in honor of the 50th anniversary of William Penn's 1701 Charter of Pennsylvania. The bible verse inscribed on the bell holds a special significance in that the verse preceding the verse quoted mentions to hallow the 50th year. On November 1, 1751, Isaac Norris, Thomas Leech, and Edward Warner sent a letter to the Colonial Agent of the Province of Pennsylvania, Robert Charles. Mr. Charles was working in London at the time of receiving the letter requesting that he commission the bell for the State House Steeple. Mr. Charles contracted Whitechapel Foundry to make the bell.

Almost a year later, the bell arrived in Philadelphia on September 1, 1752. However it was not hung until March 10, 1753. The bell first cracked when it was rung as a test of it's sound. Although the actual cause of the break is not known, it is believed to be either flaws in the casting process or that the metal was too brittle.

John Pass and John Stow offered to recast the bell and were given this task. They recast the bell twice. The first time, they added copper to make the bell stronger, but when it was cast and hung, the tone of the bell was not satisfactory so they then had the task of melting the bell down again and recasting it. This was no small chore considering that the bell weighs 2080 pounds. Based upon tests of the bell makeup, it has been determined that Pass and Stow must not have had a method of melting the bell at one time. The makeup of the bells metal contents are not the same throughout, but basically it is 70 % copper, 25% tin, and the final 5% being made up of a combination of small amounts of lead, zinc, arsenic, gold, and silver.

As you can see, this bell is as complex as the land in which it stands as a symbol of freedom and our heritage. The bell has even been rumored to be sunken in the ocean at one time. The British soldiers were running low on ammunition and in order to save the bells from being used as ammunition. Bells were transferred to the Allentown to be hidden underneath the floor of the Zion Reformed Church.

The bell has also traveled extensively after the Civil War as a reminder of when we fought together to gain our freedom. It was an attempt at healing the wounds caused by the Civil War. The bell remains today a symbol of independence, freedom, and the strength that was shown by our ancestors. They fought against what was often seen as insurmountable obstacles. There were not really given a chance to win, but they fought bravely and we are blessed today due to their struggles.

Although the bell no longer travels or is capable of being rung, it is still a very important part of our history. If we continue to look to it as a symbol of our freedoms and remember what our ancestors fought so gallantly for, then we will be honoring the memory of their actions with our respect. If you get a chance to visit the bell, take a few minutes and reflect upon the inscription. "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof- Lev. XXV, v.x. By order of the Assembly of the Province of Pensylvania for the State House in Philada." This inscription shows the inconsistencies of the spelling of Pennsylvania at the time, but it also shows that our ancestors wished us liberty from then on. Their struggles should be rewarded with our honor and respect of all the blessings they afforded us.

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