The Liberty Bell, in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, is an object of great reverence to A
The Liberty Bell, in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, is an object of great
reverence to Americans because of its association with the historic events of
the War of Independence.
The original Province bell, ordered to commemorate the 50th anniverary of the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, was cast by Thomas Lister, Whitechapel, London,
and reached Philadelphia in Aug. 1752. It bore an inscription from Leviticus
XXV, 10: "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants
The bell was cracked by a stroke of its clapper in Sept. 1752 while it hung on
a truss in the State House yard for testing. Pass & Stow, Philadelphia
founders, recast the bell, adding 1-1/2 ounces of copper to a pound of the
original metal to reduce brittleness. It was found that the bell contained
too much copper, injuring its tone, so Pass & Stow recast it again, this time
In June 1753 the bell was hung in the wooden steeple of the State House,
erected on top of the brick tower. In use while the Continental Congress was
in session in the State House, it rang out in defiance of British tax and
trade restrictions, and proclaimed the Boston Tea Party and the first public
reading of the Declaration of Independence.
On Sept. 18, 1777, when the British Army was about to occupy Philadelphia, the
bell was moved in a baggage train of the American Army to Allentown, Pa. where
it was hidden in the Zion Reformed Church until June 27, 1778. It was moved
back to Philadelphia after the British left.
In July 1781 the wooden steeple became insecure and had to be taken down. The
bell was lowered into the brick section of the towerr. Here it was hanging in
July, 1835, when it cracked while tolling for the funeral of John Marshall,
chief justice of the United States. Because of its association with the War
of Independence it was not recast but remained mute in this location until
1846, the year of the Mexican War, when it was placed on exhibition in the
Declaration Chamber of Independence Hall.
In 1876, when many thousands of Americans visited Philadelphia for the
Centennial Exposition, it was placed in its old walnut frame in the tower
hallway. In 1877 it was hung from the ceiling of the tower by a chain of 13
links. It was returned again to the Declaration Chamber and in 1896 taken
back to the tower hall, where it occupied a glass case. In 1915 the case was
removed so that the public might touch it. On Jan. 1, 1976, just after
midnight to mark the opening of the Bicentennial Year, the bell was moved to a
new glass and steel pavillion behind Independence Hall for easier viewing by
the larger number of visitors expected during the year.
The measurements of the bell follow: circcumference around the lip, 12 ft.;
circumference around the crown, 7 ft. 6 in.; lip to the crown, 3 ft.; height
over the crown, 2 ft. 3 in.; thickness at lip, 3 in.; thickness at crown, 1-
1/4 in.; weight, 2080 lbs.; length of clapper, 3 ft. 2 in.; cost, 60 British
pounds 14 sterling 5d.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank