Facts about the Liberty Bell
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE LIBERTY BELL
In 1751 the Pennsylvania Assembly authorized a committee to procure a bell for their State House. November 1st of that year an order was sent to London for "a good bell of about 2,000 pounds weight." To this order were added the following directions: "Let the bell be cast by the best workmen and examined carefully before it is shipped, with the following words well shaped in large letters around it, viz.: 'By order of the Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania, for the State House, in the city of Philadelphia, 1752.' And underneath, 'Proclaim Liberty Through All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants Thereof.--Levit. xxv. 10.'" In due time, in the following year, the bell reached Philadelphia, but when it was hung, early in 1753, as it was being first rung to test the sound, it cracked without any apparent reason, and it was necessary to have it recast. It was at first thought to be necessary to send it back to England for the purpose, but some "ingenious workmen" in Philadelphia wished to do the casting and were allowed to do so. In the first week of June, 1753, the bell was again hung in the belfry of the State House. On July 4, 1776, it was known throughout the city that the final decision on the question of declaring the colonies independent of Great Britain was to be made by the Continental Congress, in session at the State House. Accordingly the old bellman had been stationed in the belfry on that morning, with orders to ring the bell when a boy waiting at the door of the State House below should signal to him that the bill for independence had been passed. Hour after hour the old man stood at his post. At last, at 2 o'clock, when he had about concluded that the question would not be decided on that day at least, the watchman heard a shout from below, and looking down saw the boy at the door clapping his hands and calling at the top of his voice: "Ring! ring!" And he did ring, the story goes, for two whole hours, being so filled with excitement and enthusiasm that he could not stop. When the British threatened Philadelphia, in 1777, the precious bell was taken down and removed to the town of Bethlehem for safety. In 1778 it was returned to the State House and a new steeple built for it. Several years after it cracked, for some unknown reason, under a stroke of the clapper, and its tone was thus destroyed. An attempt was made to restore its tone by sawing the crack wider, but without success. This bell was sent to New Orleans during the winter to be exhibited in the World's Fair there. The Pullman Company gave one of their handsomest cars for the transit. It was in the charge of three custodians appointed by the Mayor of Philadelphia, who did not leave it night or day, and guarded it as fully as possible against accident. A pilot engine preceded the train carrying the bell over the entire route. It left Philadelphia Jan. 24, 1885, and returned in June.