Little Bits of History

July 5

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 5, 2017

1915: The US Liberty Bell leaves Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The iconic symbol of American Independence was commissioned in 1752 by the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly from the London firm of Lester and Pack (today Whitechapel Bell Foundry). It was cast with the phrase “Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof”. When it arrived in Philadelphia, the bell was rung in order to proclaim and instead, it cracked. It was recast twice by local workman John Pass and John Snow (who both added their names to the bell). It was used to summon lawmakers to legislative sessions and to let the citizenry know about public meetings and proclamations.

No immediate announcement was made when the Second Continental Congress voted for independence on July 4. When the word came out, bells across the land were rung on July 8, including the Liberty Bell. After the Revolutionary War, the bell fell into disuse and relative obscurity until the 1830s when abolitionists began to use the bell as a symbol of freedom for all and began calling it the Liberty Bell. At some point in the early 1800s, the bell developed the distinctive large crack up the side. Beginning in 1885, the City of Philadelphia, which owns the bell, began to let the Bell travel to various expositions and patriotic gatherings. The Bell attracted large crowds wherever it went. Always shipped by rail, people gathered at each stop along the way to see the symbol of America and Freedom.

The Bell made seven trips around the country. The first trip was to New Orleans for the World Cotton Centennial exposition. On that trip, while passing through Mississippi, Jefferson Davis, former President of the CSA, delivered a speech praising all the American Dream meant and asking for unity through the land. The trips were taking a toll on the bell and the crack was worsening. In 1912, a request was made to send the Bell to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco in 1915. There was some reluctance to let the Bell go, but in 1914, the city installed a metal support structure inside the Bell called the “spider”. It was tested in February 1915 and deemed fit to travel.

On this day, the Bell was loaded onto the train in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania aboard a specially constructed rail car. About 5 million people saw the Bell as she travelled across the country and it is thought another 2 million kissed the Bell while on display. It was taken back East via a different route and it is thought another 5 million were again given the chance to view the symbol of Freedom. It was never to travel again. It has been moved outdoors just five times in the since its return to Philadelphia. Although there have been requests for the Bell to be shipped elsewhere in the country, these have all been denied. In 1976, the Bell was moved to Independence Mall and in 2003 it was shipped to the larger Liberty Bell Center where it resides today.

Not far from here where we gather today is a symbol of freedom familiar to all Americans — the Liberty Bell. When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public, the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, and a witness said: “It rang as if it meant something.” – George W. Bush

Yes there’s a lady that stands in a harbor for what we believe. And there’s a bell that still echoes the price that it cost to be free. – Aaron Tippen

I ask you…to adopt the principles proclaimed by yourselves, by your revolutionary fathers, and by the old bell in Independence Hall…. – Frederick Douglass

The Liberty Bell is a very significant symbol for the entire democratic world. – Nelson Mandela

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