Liberty Bell

At a meeting of the Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania about November 1751, the Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly, ordered the Superintendents (Isaac Norris, Thomas Leech and Edward Warner), to procure a bell of about 2,000 pounds in weight, from England.

He asked that a Bible verse to be placed on the bell - "Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof" (Leviticus 25:10), and stipulated that it should be delivered before the following summer.

It commemorated the anniversary of William Penn's Charter. The 2,000-pound bell, however, cracked while it was being tested. Two workmen, Pass and Stow, both of Philadelphia, undertook to recast it. On breaking up Lester's bell, they pronounced it too brittle, and modified the alloy by adding about an ounce and a half of copper to every one pound of Lester's bell.

Unfortunately, they did not understand that bell metal is brittle, and relies on this to a great extent for its freedom of tone. They made a new casting that was not successful. In their second recasting, they restored the correct balance of metal, and this is the bell that now hangs in Independence Hall.

It hung in Independence Hall to announce liberty as the Declaration of Independence was read aloud to the citizens. In 1777, it was removed to an Allentown church so the British would not melt it down for ammunition or weaponry such as cannons. The last time it tolled was to celebrate Washington's Birthday, in 1846.

The term “Liberty Bell" was adopted by the abolitionist movement, because of its inscription, "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof," in their fight against slavery. The Liberty Bell's inscription conveys a message of liberty, which goes beyond the words themselves. Since the bell was cast, the words of the inscription have meant different things to different people.

Beginning in the late 1800s, the Liberty Bell traveled around the country to help heal the divisions of the Civil War. It reminded Americans of their earlier days when they fought and worked together for independence.

In 1915, the bell made its last trip and came home to Philadelphia, where it now silently reminds us of the power of liberty.

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Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell by Robert W. Sands Jr., Alexander B. Bartlett.
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John Marshall: Definer of a Nation by Jean Edward Smith.
It was in tolling the death of Chief Justice John Marshall in 1835 that the Liberty Bell cracked, never to ring again. An apt symbol of the man who sh...