But I did know Philadelphia was home to the Liberty Bell. I even knew about the infamous crack in this international icon of freedom. Duh! Unfortunately, that was just about the extent of my knowledge before visiting said bell last month during our whirlwind tour of America’s first capital city. I think it may have had more to do with retrieval than storage. My operating system is getting a bit sluggish after all these years; disk space isn’t what it used to be either.
Alas, if my dilemma resonates with you, you might just find today’s post has a ‘ring’ of familiarity. Or perhaps you’re a history buff and feel the need to compare notes. Either way, rest assured; none of this will be on the test. There is NO TEST! Isn't life (and liberty) wonderful?! Might as well throw in the pursuit of happiness, too.
The Philadelphia Public Ledger reported in its February 26, 1846 publication:
"The old Independence Bell rang its last clear note on Monday last in honor of the birthday of Washington and now hangs in the great city steeple irreparably cracked and dumb. It had been cracked before but was set in order of that day by having the edges of the fracture filed so as not to vibrate against each other ... It gave out clear notes and loud, and appeared to be in excellent condition until noon, when it received a sort of compound fracture in a zigzag direction through one of its sides which put it completely out of tune and left it a mere wreck of what it was."
In retrospect, it is a remarkably apt metaphor for a country literally cracked and freedom fissured for its black inhabitants. The line following "proclaim liberty" is, "It shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man
unto his family." The Abolitionists understood this passage to mean that the Bible demanded all slaves and prisoners be freed every 50 years.
The bell weighs 2080 pounds. It is made of 70% copper, 25% tin, and small amounts of lead, zinc, arsenic, gold, and silver. The names Pass and Stow appear on the Bell just above the crack.
Pass and Stow broke up the Bell and recast it a second time to no avail. I hate when that happens! In November of that same year Philadelphia asked England's Whitechapel Foundry to cast a second bell that would 'ring true'; at the very least sound better than the Pass and Stow Bell.
So the Pass and Stow Bell remained where it was in the steeple, and the new Whitechapel bell was placed in the cupola on the State House roof and attached to the clock to sound the hours, even though the sound wasn't any better than the Pass and Stow Bell. Sometime later the Pass and Stow Bell developed another hairline crack.
In 1772 a petition was sent to the Assembly stating that the people in the vicinity of the State House were "incommoded and distressed" by the constant "ringing of the great Bell in the steeple."
It's tough to beat tradition; the Bell continued tolling for the First Continental Congress in 1774, the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775 and its most resonant tolling was on July 8, 1776, when it summoned the citizenry for the reading of the Declaration of Independence produced by the Second Continental Congress. However, the steeple was in bad condition and historians today doubt the likelihood of the story.
To this day, oppressed groups come to Philadelphia to give voice to their plight, at the Liberty Bell, proclaiming their call for liberty.
Each year, the bell is gently tapped in honor of Martin Luther King Day. The ceremony began in 1986 at request of Dr. King's widow, Coretta Scott King.
In a related release, the company pointed out that corporations had been adopting highways for years, and that Taco Bell was simply "going one step further by purchasing one of the country's greatest historic treasures."
Thousands of people called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the Liberty Bell was housed to angrily protest the selling of the bell. Taco Bell kept a straight face until noon, at which point it revealed that the earlier press releases were an April Fools joke. Soon afterwards Mike McCurry, the White House spokesperson, responded to the jest by declaring that the federal government would also be "selling the Lincoln Memorial to Ford Motor Company and renaming it the Lincoln-Mercury Memorial." The hoax paid off for Taco Bell. Their sales during the first week of April shot up by over half a million dollars.