* Irene's Country Corner * - The Liberty Bell




The Liberty Bell

Copyright © Graphics by Irene


"A chime that changed the world"

Copyright © Graphics by Irene

 On July 8, 1776, on a day that marked America's history of Independence, the "State House Bell", later renamed "Liberty Bell" in 1893, after its inscription, made its most resonant pealing from the top of the tower of the State House, present Independence Hall, inviting American citizens to hear the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence produced by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

The Bell was cast in London, ordered from Whitechapel Foundry, by the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1751, in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of William Penn's 1701 Charter of Privileges, Pennsylvania's original Constitution, which speaks of the rights and freedoms valued by people. It arrived in Philadelphia on September 1, 1752 and hung in the tower of the Independence Hall, on March 10, 1753.

The fist inscription of the Bell, as specified in the Whitechaple contract was:

By order of the Assembly of the province of Pensylvania for the State house in the City of Philadª 1752

When the Bell was recast by Pass and Stow, it changed to:

By order of the ASSEMBLY of the Province of PENSYLVANIA for the State House in Philadª

Pass and Stow

The quotation "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof," from the passage from Leviticus 25:10, was chosen by Quaker Isaac Norris, speaker of the Assembly, to be inscribed on the Bell.

The bell weighed originally 943.5 kg (2080 lbs.), today it has been reduced to 2055 lbs. and it measures 3.7 m (12 ft) in circumference around the lip. Its height from the lip to the crown is 3 ft. The Bell tone is E-flat.

A curiosity about the Bell's inscriptions, is the way Pennsylvania was misspelled: "By Order of the Assembly of the Province of Pensylvania for the State House in Philadª." No, no one made a mistake, it was in fact, the exact way that Pennsylvania was spelled at that time, even in the original Constitution, the name of the state is also spelled Pensylvania.

In the first Bell, cast by Whitechapel, "province" was misspelled in the contract. "By order of the Assembly of the province of Pensylvania for the State house in the City of Philadª 1752".

The Bell was first mentioned as Liberty Bell in a pamphlet from the Friends of Freedom, a Boston abolitionist organization, in 1839. However, it only became universally known as Liberty Bell in 1893. The Bell was also known as State House Bell, which was the first name the Bell received, Old Independence Bell, Old Bell, Bell of Independence and Old Liberty Bell.

The Liberty Bell had been used for many years, in order to call the Assembly together and as a way of summoning citizenry for special events, such as the day King George III ascended to the British throne in 1761, the discussion of the Sugar Act in 1764 and the Stamp Act in 1765.

In 1772 the Assembly received a petition stating that the people living near the Independence Hall were "incommoded and distressed" by the "ringing of the great Bell in the steeple."

But it continued tolling for many other events along the years that followed, such as the First Continental Congress in 1774, the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775 and the reading of the Declaration of Independence by Colonel John Nixon on July 8, 1776, which became the most important date in the history of the Bell.

The crack on the bell is said to have been caused either to flaws in its casting or for being too brittle. The Philadelphia foundry workers named John Pass and John Stow were given the cracked bell, which was melted down in an effort to make it less brittle, recast and raised in the belfry on March 29, 1753, but the new Bell was also defective and nobody was pleased with its sound. The Bell was broken and recast in June, 1753, once again by Pass and Stow and on June 7, 1753, it was hung in the tower of the Independence Hall.

In November of the same year, the Bell was recast once again, this time by Whitechapel Foundry, but when it arrived from England, it was agreed that it did not sound better than the Pass and Stow bell. For this reason, it was decided that the Liberty Bell should be kept in the steeple and the new Whitechapel bell was then placed in the cupola on the Independence Hall roof and attached to the clock to sound the hours.

In 1777, when the British troops occupied Philadelphia during the American Revolution, the Liberty Bell, was removed from the tower and taken to floorboards of the Zion Reformed Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in order to keep it safe from being melted and used for cannon. The Liberty Bell was finally returned to Philadelphia and replaced in the Independence Hall in 1778. Thereafter, the bell was rung on every July 4 and on every state occasion, such as the commemoration of George Washington's birthday, until it could no longer be rung due to its crack.

It is said that it was during the commemorations of George Washington's Birthday in 1846, that the final expansion of the crack occurred. As it made the Bell unringable, it was established that from that date on, the Bell would not toll again as it used to do. Now, on every Fourth of July, the Bell is symbolically tapped, in unison with thousands of other bells across the entire nation, in commemoration of the Independence of the United States.

In the 1880s, the Bell started its various travels throughout the country as a way of "proclaiming liberty".

The Bell was moved to its present location in a glass pavilion near Independence Hall in 1976.

Copyright © Graphics by Irene

If you are in Philadelphia, visit the Liberty Bell at:

Liberty Bell Pavilion
Market Street between 5th & 6th, Philadelphia, PA

Links: Liberty Bell Memorial Museum

Copyright © Graphics by Irene

  You are listening to "The Liberty Bell March", written by John Philip Sousa in 1893 for the Liberty Bell's visit to the World's Columbian Exhibition in Chicago.

I got the animated bell on the top of this page while making a research for a paper I had to do at college some years ago. I do not remember the url anymore. If anyone knows it, please let me know so I can give credit. Thank you !

Copyright © Graphics by Irene

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This page was created on: June 26th 2001.
Last updated on: July 4th 2003.

 Nothing in this site is Public Domain. Graphics are copyrighted by various artists and are used with permission.
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