Sometimes ordinary objects become special over time. The Liberty Bell is just such an object. The Liberty Bell began its life as an ordinary bell, ordered from London, to ring at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia. Everyone was excited when the bell was delivered to the State House in 1751. But when the bell was rung, it made a terrible sound and a wide crack appeared in its side. So, how did this bell get to become a patriotic symbol?
After the bell cracked, John Pass and John Stow offered to fix it. They used sledgehammers to break the bell into pieces. Then they melted it and recast it, adding some copper to strengthen it.
The bell was completed in 1753, but when it was rung, it had a harsh, dull tone. The people were disappointed again. Pass and Stowe were determined to fix it. They took the bell down, melted it once more, and added some tin. The new bell sounded better, but still didn’t have the beautiful tone the people had hoped for.
On July 8, 1776, Congress read the newly signed Declaration of Independence to the people. Imagine their joy as they heard the words, “All men are created equal.”
The bell rang out after the reading of the Declaration. On the bottom of the bell was written the words, ‘Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants Thereof,” a phrase which comes from the Bible. The bell suddenly seemed more important and special.
During the Revolutionary War, the bell was hidden from the British under the floor of a church. After the British left Philadelphia, the bell was retrieved. It rang when Britain surrendered York Town and when the peace treaty was signed in 1783.
After the war, the bell was only used for special occasions. It was rung in 1835 at the death of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall’s death. Unfortunately, it cracked once again. A new bell was ordered and the old bell was largely forgotten.
Then in 1846, a newspaper writer suggested the cracked bell be rung to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. Suddenly, the old bell was beloved again. It was named the Liberty Bell.
Since then, the State House in Pennsylvania has been renamed Independence Hall. The bell is now kept in a glass case across the street. It is rung every 4th of July and on special occasions.
Inhabitants: citizens or people who live in a specific place
Retrieve: bring back
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How big is the Liberty Bell?
Answer: The bell is 3 feet high. It measures 12 feet in circumference around the base. The bell weighs just over a ton – 2080 pounds.