Liberty Bell: Wikis


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Liberty Bell
Independence Bell, Old State House bell
Tower Bell
The Liberty Bell.
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
City Philadelphia
Location Liberty Bell Center
 - elevation 30 ft (9 m)
 - coordinates 39°56′58.15″N 75°9′1.06″W / 39.9494861°N 75.1502944°W / 39.9494861; -75.1502944
Circumference 12 ft (3.7 m)
Weight 2,055 lb (900 kg)
Caster Whitechapel Bell Foundry
Materials Copper, Tin
Cast 1752
Owner City of Philadelphia
Location of the Liberty Bell within Pennsylvania
Close-up of the Liberty Bell. Inscribed are the names of John Pass and John Stow, together with city and date, along the inscription (see text).

The Liberty Bell, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is one of the most prominent symbols of the American Revolutionary War. It is a familiar symbol of independence within the United States and has been described as an icon of liberty and justice.[1]

According to tradition, its most famous ringing occurred on July 8, 1776, to summon citizens of Philadelphia for the reading of the Declaration of Independence. Historians today consider this highly doubtful, as the steeple in which the bell was hung had deteriorated significantly by that time.[2] The bell had also been rung to announce the opening of the First Continental Congress in 1774 and after the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775.

The Liberty Bell was known as the "Independence Bell" or the "Old Yankee's Bell" until 1837, when it was adopted by the American Anti-Slavery Society as a symbol of the abolitionist movement.[3]



The inscription on the Liberty Bell reads as follows:

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

The source of the inscription is Leviticus 25:10, which reads "And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family."

18th century history


Ordering and first crack

The bell was ordered in 1751 by the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly for use in the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall) in Philadelphia. It was cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London and delivered to Philadelphia in late August/early September 1752 via the ship Hibernia. It cost £100, weighed 2,080 lbs, is twelve feet in the lip circumference, and three feet from the lip to the top. The following March, the bell was hung from temporary scaffolding in the square outside the State House. To the dismay of onlookers, the bell cracked during testing. Isaac Norris, speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly, wrote, "I had the mortification to hear that it was cracked by a stroke of the clapper without any other violence [sic] as it was hung up to try the sound."[3]

Recasting and hanging

While a replacement from Whitechapel was ordered, the bell was recast by John Dock Pass and John Stow of Philadelphia, whose surnames appear inscribed on the bell. Pass and Stow added copper to the composition of the alloy used to cast the bell, and the tone of the bell proved unsatisfactory. The two recast the bell yet again, restoring the correct balance of metal, and this third bell was hung in the steeple of the State House in June 1753.[5]

American Revolutionary War

Detail of the yoke
The modern underside of the bell, showing the structure supporting it
The Liberty Bell depicted on the Franklin half dollar.
Vermont's replica is in the hall outside the Department of Libraries (Pavilion Office Building in Montpelier).
Liberty Bell postage stamp, 1926 issue, commemorating 150th anniversary.
Liberty Bell on display across from Independence Hall

Tradition holds that the bell was rung to announce the opening of the First Continental Congress in 1774 and after the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775.[2]

After Washington's defeat at the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, the revolutionary capital of Philadelphia was defenseless, and the city prepared for what was seen as an inevitable British attack on the city. The Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ordered that eleven bells, including the State House bell and the bells from Christ Church and St. Peter's Church, be taken down and removed from the city to prevent the British, who might melt the bells down to cast into cannons, from taking possession of them. A train of over 700 wagons, guarded by 200 cavalry from North Carolina and Virginia and under the command of Colonel Thomas Polk of the 4th Regiment North Carolina Continental Line, left Philadelphia for Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in the Lehigh Valley. The bells were hidden in manure and hay, and the State House bell was hidden in the wagon of Northampton County militia private John Jacob Mickley.

On September 24, the entourage and armed escort arrived in Richland Township (present-day Quakertown, Pennsylvania). On September 23, the bishop of the Moravian Church in Bethlehem reported that the wagons had arrived, and all bells except the State House bell had been moved to Northampton-Towne (present-day Allentown, Pennsylvania). The following day, the State House bell was transferred to the wagon of Frederick Leaser and taken to the historic Zion's Reformed Church in center city Allentown, where it was stored (along with the other bells), under the floorboards.[6] On September 26, British forces marched into Philadelphia, unopposed, and occupied the city. The bell was restored to Philadelphia following the end of the British occupation in June of 1778.

19th century

During the 19th century, the bell tolled at the death of Alexander Hamilton (1804), Lafayette's return to Philadelphia (1824), the deaths of Adams and Jefferson (1826), Washington's 100th birthday celebration (1832) and the deaths of Lafayette (1834), John Marshall (1835) and William Henry Harrison (1841).[7]

In 1839, William Lloyd Garrison's anti-slavery publication The Liberator reprinted a Boston abolitionist pamphlet containing a poem about the Bell, entitled, "The Liberty Bell," which represents the first known usage (in print) of the name, "Liberty Bell."[7]

It is not certain when the second crack began (the first after the recastings), though it has been long believed to have been at the death of John Marshall in 1835.[7] This has been rhetorically linked with the overriding of the judge's support for the rights of the Cherokee.[8]

The bell was repaired in February 1846. The method of repair, known as stop drilling, required drilling along the hairline crack so that the sides of the fracture would not reverberate.

On February 22, 1846, the bell was tolled for several hours in the tower of Independence Hall in honor of George Washington's birthday.[9] When the bell was rung, the crack grew from the top of the repaired crack to the crown of the bell, rendering the bell unusable. Contrary to appearances, the large crevice that currently exists in the Liberty Bell is a repair from the expansions, and not the crack itself.

In 1852, the bell was removed from its steeple, and put on display in the "Declaration Chamber" of Independence Hall. In the meantime, a "Centennial Bell" replica was given as a gift to Philadelphia in 1876. The bell was cast by Meneely & Kimberly, a Troy, New York, bell foundry in June 1876. A third bell hangs in a modern tower nearby. Cast at the same British foundry as the original, this replica, called the Bicentennial Bell, was given to the people of the United States by Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain during a visit to Philadelphia in 1976.

From 1885 to 1915, the Liberty Bell traveled to numerous cities and was displayed at expositions and world's fairs.

Replicas and bells inspired by the Liberty Bell

One replica of the Liberty Bell is the Illinois Freedom Bell, which was cast in the early 1860s, and is located in Mount Morris, Illinois.[10] Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team, features a large neon version of the bell that is illuminated and swung back and forth each time a member of the team hits a home run or the team wins a game. Veterans Stadium, former home of the Phillies and Philadelphia Eagles, was capped with an iron replica of the bell. An earlier image of the bell, located at the top of the stadium's scoreboard (predating the one near the stadium's top) was once hit by a home run in 1972 by Phillies player Greg "The Bull" Luzinski. There is also a full scale replica of the bell in the Liberty Square area of the Magic Kingdom park in the Walt Disney World Resort. The bell is rung on real-life American holidays of particular significance to the American Revolution. A full scale replica with a painted-on crack hangs in the Rotunda of the Academic Building at Texas A&M University. It was presented to the school in recognition of the numerous Texas Aggies who fought in World War II. There is a full scale replica in Buena Park, California, and a 3/4 scale Independence Hall just outside of Knott's Berry Farm.

Liberty, Texas is home to the first exact replica of the Liberty Bell. It all started when two sisters from Liberty, Sallie and Nadine Woods, who had muscular dystrophy, were looking for a symbol to represent their non-profit organization. In their search they obtained permission to have an exact replica made. The bell was cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London, England, from the original molds. In 1960 actor John Wayne was commissioned to dedicate the bell, in a major event that was held on the Liberty Courthouse grounds. John Wayne rang the bell 16 times. The Woods sisters, in the mid 1970’s, donated the bell to the city of Liberty where it now resides at the Geraldine D. Humphrey Cultural Center, in Liberty.

As part of the Liberty Bell Savings Bonds drive in 1950, replicas (though not exact replicas: the crack is painted on) were ordered by the United States Department of the Treasury and were cast in France. The purpose of the bells was to be transported around each state to drum up support for the purchase of savings bonds. After the bond drive was completed, the replicas were given to each state, as well as Alaska and Hawaii (which were not yet states), Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Many of the bells today are sited on the grounds of their respective state capitols or capitol office complexes.[11]

A replica of the Liberty Bell can be found in the Botanical Gardens of the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas.

Outside of the United States, replicas of the Liberty Bell can be found in Belgium, Israel, and Japan.[12]

The Liberty Bell in Berlin was inspired by the American Liberty Bell, although it is not a replica, but a distinct bell. It was given as a gift from Americans to the city of Berlin, as a symbol of the fight against communism in Europe in 1950.

Similarly an imitation of the Liberty Bell was gifted to the people of the new country of Czechoslovakia in 1919 by the people of the United States of America (mainly emigres from the territory of Austria-Hungary that became Czechoslovakia). The bell remained unused for a long period but since 1980 it has been located in the north bell tower of the Kostel svatého Antonína z Padovy (Holešovice) "St. Antonin's church" in Prague.

Sister Bell

The replacement bell ordered from the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1753 became known as the "Sister Bell". It was installed at the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall), and attached to the State House clock. The Sister Bell rang the hours until the late 1820s, when the bell was removed during a renovation and loaned to the Olde St. Augustine Church in Philadelphia. In 1829, the bell was hung in a new cupola and tower designed by architect William Strickland. There it remained until May 8, 1844, when it was destroyed, along with the Olde St. Augustine Church, during the Philadelphia Nativist Riots. The friars of St. Augustine had the "Sister Bell" recast and transferred to Villanova University, which had been established in 1842. It is currently enshrined in the Heritage room which is in the basement of the St. Augustine Monastery on Villanova's campus. Also included in this small museum are Papal artifacts and relics.[13]

Visiting the Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell Center is open daily, with the exception of Christmas Day, from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., with extended hours of operation during the summer months. No tickets are required, however visitors must submit to a security screening. Over two million tourists visit the bell per year. The Liberty Bell Center was designed by the Philadelphia office of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Architects.

See also


  1. ^ "The Liberty Bell: From Obscurity to Icon". Independence National Historical Park. October 16, 2006. 
  2. ^ a b Liberty Bell
  3. ^ a b FAQs about the Liberty Bell
  4. ^ The spelling "Pensylvania" was an accepted variant at the time.
  5. ^ "THE LIBERTY BELL". Retrieved 2009-12-11. 
  6. ^ The Liberty Bells of Pennsylvania, Rev. John Baer Stoudt, 1927
  7. ^ a b c Liberty Bell Timeline
  8. ^ Ronald Wright, What is America: A Short History of the New World Order, 2008, p 289.
  9. ^ The Liberty Bell-Reading 2
  10. ^ Illinois Official Freedom Bell Retrieved on September 03, 2007
  11. ^ Flynn, Lona. Freedom Bells (pamphlet based on information presented to the New York State Education Department on September 12, 1996, by Lona Flynn, Cicero Town Historian)
  12. ^
  13. ^ Villanova Magazine - Fall 2003 Edition

External links

Simple English

File:Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell is an important symbol of American freedom.

The Liberty Bell is an important and famous symbol of American independence (freedom). It used to be in the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall). The bell was ordered from the London firm of Lester and Pack (which is known as the Whitechapel Bell Foundry today) in 1752. It had the letters "Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." This was a part of Leviticus 25:10. It first cracked when it was first rung when it came to Philadelphia, and was made again twice by John Pass and John Stow, two workmen. When it was first made, the Liberty Bell was used to make lawmakers come to legislative meetings. It was also used to call people to public meetings.

Bells were rung when the Declaration of Independence was read on July 8, 1776. While there is no record that the Liberty Bell was rung, most historians believe it was rung with the other bells. In the 1830's, the bell was used as a symbol by abolitionist societies, who called it the "Liberty Bell". The bell got its large, well-known crack in the early 19th century. One story claims it was cracked while ringing after Chief Justice John Marshall died in 1835.

The bell became widely famous after a short story in 1847 claimed that an old bell-ringer rang it on July 4, 1776, after hearing the Second Continental Congress's vote for independence. Actually, the bell could not have been rung on that Fourth of July, because no announcement of the Declaration was made that day. However, many people believed this story. Even some historians accepted it as a fact. From the 1885, the City of Philadelphia, which owned the bell, allowed it to go to many different patriotic meetings. Many people came to see the bell, and it grew even more cracked. Pieces were broken off by souvenir hunters. The last such journey was in 1915. After that, the city refused any more requests of that kind.


Founding (1751–1753)

Ever since the city began in 1682, Philadelphia had been using its city bell to make its people know about meetings or danger. The first bell hung from a tree behind the Pennsylvania State House, now known as Independence Hall. In 1751, a bell tower was built in the Pennsylvania State House, and the leaders there began looking for a bell which could be heard from far away (the city was growing larger quickly).[1] Isaac Norris, speaker of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly, ordered the colony's London agent, Robert Charles, to get a "good Bell of about two thousands pound weight".[2]

We hope and rely (trust) on thy (your) care and assistance (help) in this affair and that thou (you) wilt (will) procure (get) and forward it by the first good oppo as our workmen inform us it will be much less trouble to hang the Bell before their Scaffolds are struck from the Building where we intend (wish) to place it which will not be done 'till the end of next Summer or beginning of the Fall. Let the bell be cast by the best workmen & examined carefully before it is Shipped with the following words well shaped around it vizt.
By Order of the Assembly of the Povince  [sic] of Pensylvania  [sic] for the State house in the City of Philada 1752
and Underneath
Proclaim Liberty thro' all the Land to all the Inhabitants thereof.-Levit. XXV. 10.[2]

So Charles paid Lester and Pack (today the Whitechapel Bell Foundry)[3] £150 13s 8d,[4] (the same amount of money as about $36,400 today)[5] for the bell, including the cost of taking it to Philadelphia and its insurance. It arrived in Philadelphia in August 1752.

Becoming a symbol (1847–1865)

[[File:|thumb|upright|The Bellman Informed of the Passage of the Declaration of Independence: an 1854 depiction of the story of the Liberty Bell being rung on July 4, 1776|alt=An elderly man looks excitedly around as a boy enters a bell chamber. The old man holds a rope leading to the Liberty Bell in his hand.]] A large reason why the bell became famous was because of a writer named George Lippard. On January 2, 1847, his story "Fourth of July, 1776" appeared in Saturday Review magazine. The short story was about an old man on July 4, 1776. It described how he was sitting sadly by the bell, afraid that Congress would not be able to declare independence. Suddenly, a young boy comes to tell the old man to ring the bell. The story was widely reprinted. This made people think of the Liberty Bell and the Declaration of Independence as closely related.[6]

See also

  • The Mercury spacecraft that Gus Grissom, an astronaut, flew on July 21, 1961, was called Liberty Bell 7. The capsules looked a bit like bells, and they painted a crack on it so that it would look like the original Liberty Bell. Liberty Bell 7 became the only Mercury capsule to suffer an integrity failure.
  • Margaret Buechner made a work for chorus and orchestra, "Liberty Bell", that uses a 1959 recording of the actual bell made by Columbia Records.
  • The superhero Liberty Belle's powers come from the ringing of the bell.



  1. Nash, pp. 1–2
  2. 2.0 2.1 Paige, pp. 2–3
  3. The Franklin Institute, p. 19
  4. 150 pounds, thirteen shillings and eightpence.
  5. Purchasing power of British Pounds from 1264 to present. Retrieved 2010–08–26. 
  6. Kimball, p. 56


  • de Bolla, Peter (2008). The Fourth of July and the Founding of America. Woodstock, NY: The Overlook Press. ISBN 978-1-58567-933-1. 
  • The Franklin Institute. (1962) Report of the Committee for the Preservation of the Liberty Bell

. Philadelphia, PA: The Franklin Institute. Report. (reprinted in The Journal of the Franklin Institute, Volume 275, Number 2, February 1963), obtained from Independence National Historical Park Library and Archive, 143 S. 3rd St., Philadelphia PA 19106)

  • Greiff, Constance M. (1987). Independence: The Creation of a National Park. Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0812280474. 
  • Hanson, Victor F.; Carlson, Janice H.; Papauchado, Karen .. (1975) Analysis of the Liberty Bell: Analytical Laboratory Report #379

. Winterthur, DE: Winterthur Museum. Report. (obtained from Independence National Historical Park Library and Archive, 143 S. 3rd St., Philadelphia PA 19106)

. Denver, CO: National Park Service (Denver Service Center and Independence National Historical Park). Report. (obtained from Independence National Historical Park Library and Archive, 143 S. 3rd St., Philadelphia PA 19106)

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