The Liberty Bell
On November 1, 1751, members of the Pennsylvania Assembly ordered a bell for the State House (now Independence Hall) steeple. It was to be cast by Whitechapel Foundry of London in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the writing of the 1701 Charter of Privileges by William Penn.
The bell was delivered to Philadelphia on September 1, 1752 but was not hung until March 10, 1753. Upon its initial ringing, it developed a crack. Recast by John Pass and John Stow, the sound of the bell was now unsatisfactory, so a new bell was ordered from the Whitechapel Foundry. When it arrived, it sounded no better than the cracked bell, so the new one was attached to the Statehouse clock tower, and the old bell remained in the steeple.
The bell tolled sparingly to announce special events: The assembling of the first Continental Congress in 1774, the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775 and to announce the reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 8, 1776. In 1777 during the British occupation of Philadelphia it was removed and hidden under the floorboards of a church in Allentown, Pennsylvania to prohibit it from being melted down and forged into a cannon. After the danger had passed it was relocated back to the State House steeple.
Beginning in 1837, abolitionists used the Liberty Bell as a symbol for their movement. Following the civil war, it became a symbol of unity. In 1986, Coretta Scott King requested that the bell be gently tapped on Martin Luther King Day, in honor of her late husband. Every Fourth of July, children who are descendants of the signers of the Declaration gently tap the bell 13 times in honor of the patriots from the original 13 states.
Inscribed on the bell is a quote from Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” This quote references the Biblical fifty-year jubilee, when all slaves were given their freedom.
Freedom isn’t free. Close to 1.5 million American soldiers have sacrificed their lives to defend our liberty. To me, the crack in the Liberty Bell symbolizes the suffering and sacrifice of the men and women who have given their all that we might enjoy freedom in 2020. Today, be grateful for the sacrifice of so many loyal Americans. In the words of the late President John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you- ask what you can do for your country.” What are you willing to sacrifice?