On July 8, 1776, a bell could be heard tolling from the tower high above the Pennsylvania State House (a.k.a. Independence Hall). It was the Liberty Bell summoning everyone within earshot to the hear the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. The Liberty Bell was simply following its own advice, inscribed on its large body:
“PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT ALL THE LAND UNTO ALL THE INHABITANTS THEREOF.”
The 2,080 pound bell was used to announce important events. And every year, it was rung to celebrate George Washington’s birthday and Independence Day.
How the Liberty Bell got its famous crack has been debated for over a century. However, most officials will tell you that the bell fractured in 1835 while tolling for the funeral of Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court John Marshall. In 1846, the crack grew to its current size while ringing to celebrate Washington’s birthday.
Liberty Bell Fun Facts:
- The bell was purchased by the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1751 for $225.
- The bell had to be recast twice because of cracking early on.
- The phrase “Liberty Bell” was first used in 1835 in an anti-slavery publication.
Rumor Has It…
In 1828, the government of Philadelphia decided to rebuild the old, crumbling steeple of the State House, and commissioned a gentleman named John Wilbank to craft a new bell to join the clock at the top of the steeple.
At the time, there were two bells in the building; the Liberty Bell (demoted to the fourth floor) and a newer bell that had been put up just seven years prior. Wilbank’s contract stipulated that he take possession of these two bells. He happily brought down the newer bell, as it was valuable. The Liberty Bell, however, had been trouble since it was first cast in 1752 (it had to be recast twice). By his calculations, it would cost more to remove the bell than the $400 value placed on it by the city. So he left it there.
The city didn’t want the piece of junk. They actually sued Wilbank to force him to take the bell. The suit resulted in a compromise – he paid the court costs, and the city kept the bell “on loan.” As the country prospered, the Liberty Bell went on to become a treasured part of American history. And although Wilbank’s heirs have tried over the years to gain possession of it, none have succeeded.
Quote of the Day:
“Opportunities always look bigger going than coming.” ~ Unknown
… what’s that ringing in my head?