f The Wittenberg Door: Today in History: Liberty Bell

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Today in History: Liberty Bell


Tradition says that on July 8, 1776, the Liberty Bell rang from the tower of the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall) as it summoned Philadelphians to hear Col. John Nixon give the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

The Pennsylvania Assembly ordered the 2,000-pound bell from London in 1751, specifying that it bear an inscription from the Bible: “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Lev. 25:10 KJV). It arrived in Philadelphia the next year but cracked on the very first test, probably due to a flaw in its casting, so it was melted down and recast twice to make a new bell

Over the years the bell rang often to call people for announcements and special events. It pealed in 1765 for Philadelphians to discuss the Stamp Act, in 1774 for the First Continental Congress, and in 1775 after the battles of Lexington and Concord.

At some point—no one is certain when—the bell cracked again. On February 22, 1846, during a ringing for Washington’s birthday, the crack grew so much that the bell became unusable. It no longer rings, though on special occasions, such as the Fourth of July, it is gently tapped On June 6, 1944, when Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy, officials struck the bell and broadcast its tone across the nation.

Today the Liberty Bell sits near Independence Hall in a pavilion known as the Liberty Bell Center. Lines from the old poem capture Americans’ attachment to the venerable icon:

The old bell now is silent,
And hushed its iron tongue,
But the spirit it awakened
Still lives—forever young.

American History Parade

1776 - The Liberty Bell rings for the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

1853 - Commodore Matthew Perry sails into Tokyo Bay seeking diplomatic and trade relations between the United States and Japan.

1889 - The first issue of the Wall Street Journal is published.

1932 - The Dow Jones Industrial Average falls to 41.22, its lowest closing of the Great Depression.

1950 - General Douglas MacArthur is named commander of United Nations forces fighting in Korea.

The American Patriot's Almanac: Daily Readings on America

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