“Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” ~~Leviticus 25:10
Those prophetic words were engraved upon the bronze bell when it was originally cast in 1751, for the Pennsylvania State House, now Independence Hall. It is a wonderful icon of America, as it has such an unbelievable history. It cracked when first rung, it was broken up and recast at least twice. It never rang clear and bright as such bells are meant to do; it always seemed to clang the many times it was used for public announcements.
However, the world remembers this bell for its glorious heralding of America’s independence on the day when the Unanimous Declaration was read publicly for the first time, July 8th, 1776. During the subsequent War with Britain, the bell was removed and hidden under a floor in Allentown, so that the enemy could not melt it down for cannon balls. After America’s wars for Independence were won, slavery abolitionists adopted it as their own icon, dubbing it “The Liberty Bell”. Long after the American Revolution, in 1846, at a celebration of the birthday of George Washington, the bell cracked again. It was never again rung, and hung silent all through the years of America’s wrenching War Between the States.
However, the role of the great bell in American history was not finished. After the surrender at Appomattox and the return of the Blue and the Grey boys to their home states, The Liberty Bell embarked upon a new journey, a journey of healing. The great bell travelled all around the country to expositions and fairs as a reminder to all Americans of their earlier history when they fought and worked together for America’s independence. Finally, in 1915, the great bell made its way home to Philadelphia where it has remained ever since.
The Liberty Bell weighs about 2000 pounds and is composed of 70% copper, 25% tin, and small amounts of lead, zinc, arsenic, gold, and silver. It hangs from what is believed to be its original yoke, made from the great American elm tree.