September 2007


As a bell, the Liberty Bell was a washout from the word go. It was ordered from Whitechapel Foundry in London, for the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House, now Independence Hall, in Philadelphia. While being hung for the first time in March of 1753, the bell developed a crack and was sent to two local foundry workers to be melted and recast. The tone of the recast bell did not please so it was recast once more. Since no one liked the sound of this one either, a new bell was ordered from Whitechapel. On arrival it too was not acceptable and the recast bell was left in place while the new one was used for the clock in the cupola.

But the bell served its purpose, being rung to call the Assembly together, to summon the people for various announcements and events and it tolled often. On July 8th 1776, supposedly it rang out to summon the citizens for the reading of the Declaration of Independence. However this story is doubted by historians since the steeple was in very bad condition at the time. Just before the British occupied Philadelphia in October 1777, all bells were removed from the city and hidden for it was feared they would be melted down and turned into cannon. The Liberty Bell was hidden in the Zion Reformed Church in Allentown, but it was returned to Philadelphia and put into storage, until rehung in a newly built steeple in 1785.

But what about the crack you ask? No one is entirely sure when it began to develop but by 1846 the bell was not ringable, despite all efforts to repair it. However, shortly before, in 1837, the bell had been adopted by abolitionists as a symbol for the movement, when it began to be used by the New York Anti-Slavery Society. In fact they gave it its name, Liberty Bell, since previously it had been called simply the State House Bell and thus began its transformation into a symbol of freedom, adopted by many different causes over the years. After the 1880s the bell made many journeys from city to city throughout the country, in an effort to unite it and heal rifts. One such journey was made after the Civil War, however it has remained in Philadelphia since 1915.

Today it resides in the Liberty Bell Center, a very modern building, opened in October 2003. This Center is across from Independence Hall as part of the Independence National Historical Park and the bell is cunningly placed so that you can see Independence Hall in the background and such that it is visible to all, even when the Center is closed. The Center also has exhibits showing the bell’s connection to various causes and many examples of items decorated with the bell since it has been very popular for that purpose over the years.


A showcase of objects decorated with the Bell


Perhaps you’d care for some Liberty Bell bookends, complete with cracks

For those who are interested here are some statistics, which you can pass right on by if you are not:

Composition: 70% copper, 25% tin, small amounts of lead, zinc, arsenic, gold and silver

Size of Crack: The crack is approximately 1/2 inch wide and 24.5 inches long.

The strike note of the Bell is E-flat

Bell Stats

  • circumference around the lip: 12 ft.
  • circumference around the crown: 7 ft. 6 in.
  • lip to crown: 3 ft.
  • height over the crown: 2 ft. 3 in.
  • thickness at lip: 3 in.
  • thickness at crown: 1-1/4 in.
  • weight (originally): 2080 lbs.
  • length of clapper: 3 ft. 2 in.
  • weight of clapper: 44-1/2 lbs.
  • weight of yoke: 200 lbs.
  • Length of visible hairline fracture: approx. 2′ 4″ (this and next measurement made by Park curator Bob Giannini in 1993)
  • Length of drilled crack: approx. 2′ 1/2″
  • yoke wood: American Elm (a.k.a. slippery elm)

A replica of the Liberty Bell, forged in 1915, was used to promote women’s suffrage. It traveled the country with its clapper chained to its side, silent until women won the right to vote. On September 25, 1920, it was brought to Independence Hall and rung in ceremonies celebrating the ratification of the 19th amendment.

The original Liberty Bell announced the creation of democracy; the Women’s Liberty Bell will announce the completion of democracy.

– Katherine Ruschenberger, suffragist, New York Times, March 31, 1915.

Its life as a working bell may have been short lived but the Liberty Bell has endured as a symbol of freedom and embraced by everyone looking to advance that cause. I don’t believe that will change anytime soon since freedom is still under attack in many places and for many people.

Apologies once more for the spacing. I think I will have to give up on wraparound.

As a bell, the Liberty Bell was a washout from the word go. It was ordered from Whitechapel Foundry in London, for the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House, now Independence Hall, in Philadelphia. While being hung for the first time in March of 1753, the bell developed a crack and was sent to two local foundry workers to be melted and recast. The tone of the recast bell did not please so it was recast once more. Since no one liked the sound of this one either, a new bell was ordered from Whitechapel. On arrival it too was not acceptable and the recast bell was left in place while the new one was used for the clock in the cupola.

But the bell served its purpose, being rung to call the Assembly together, to summon the people for various announcements and events and it tolled often. On July 8th 1776, supposedly it rang out to summon the citizens for the reading of the Declaration of Independence. However this story is doubted by historians since the steeple was in very bad condition at the time. Just before the British occupied Philadelphia in October 1777, all bells were removed from the city and hidden for it was feared they would be melted down and turned into cannon. The Liberty Bell was hidden in the Zion Reformed Church in Allentown, but it was returned to Philadelphia and put into storage, until rehung in a newly built steeple in 1785.

But what about the crack you ask? No one is entirely sure when it began to develop but by 1846 the bell was not ringable, despite all efforts to repair it. However, shortly before, in 1837, the bell had been adopted by abolitionists as a symbol for the movement, when it began to be used by the New York Anti-Slavery Society. In fact they gave it its name, Liberty Bell, since previously it had been called simply the State House Bell and thus began its transformation into a symbol of freedom, adopted by many different causes over the years. After the 1880s the bell made many journeys from city to city throughout the country, in an effort to unite it and heal rifts. One such journey was made after the Civil War, however it has remained in Philadelphia since 1915.

Today it resides in the Liberty Bell Center, a very modern building, opened in October 2003. This Center is across from Independence Hall as part of the Independence National Historical Park and the bell is cunningly placed so that you can see Independence Hall in the background and such that it is visible to all, even when the Center is closed. The Center also has exhibits showing the bell’s connection to various causes and many examples of items decorated with the bell since it has been very popular for that purpose over the years.


A showcase of objects decorated with the Bell


Perhaps you’d care for some Liberty Bell bookends, complete with cracks

For those who are interested here are some statistics, which you can pass right on by if you are not:

Composition: 70% copper, 25% tin, small amounts of lead, zinc, arsenic, gold and silver

Size of Crack: The crack is approximately 1/2 inch wide and 24.5 inches long.

The strike note of the Bell is E-flat

Bell Stats

  • circumference around the lip: 12 ft.
  • circumference around the crown: 7 ft. 6 in.
  • lip to crown: 3 ft.
  • height over the crown: 2 ft. 3 in.
  • thickness at lip: 3 in.
  • thickness at crown: 1-1/4 in.
  • weight (originally): 2080 lbs.
  • length of clapper: 3 ft. 2 in.
  • weight of clapper: 44-1/2 lbs.
  • weight of yoke: 200 lbs.
  • Length of visible hairline fracture: approx. 2′ 4″ (this and next measurement made by Park curator Bob Giannini in 1993)
  • Length of drilled crack: approx. 2′ 1/2″
  • yoke wood: American Elm (a.k.a. slippery elm)

A replica of the Liberty Bell, forged in 1915, was used to promote women’s suffrage. It traveled the country with its clapper chained to its side, silent until women won the right to vote. On September 25, 1920, it was brought to Independence Hall and rung in ceremonies celebrating the ratification of the 19th amendment.

The original Liberty Bell announced the creation of democracy; the Women’s Liberty Bell will announce the completion of democracy.

– Katherine Ruschenberger, suffragist, New York Times, March 31, 1915.

Its life as a working bell may have been short lived but the Liberty Bell has endured as a symbol of freedom and embraced by everyone looking to advance that cause. I don’t believe that will change anytime soon since freedom is still under attack in many places and for many people.

Apologies once more for the spacing. I think I will have to give up on wraparound.

Well there’s not exactly a fridge meme, although Ian at Shades of Grey suggested the word when he posted a photo of his fridge here after Welshcakes of Sicily Scene posted several shots of hers, here and here.

But since you “enjoyed” the photos of my bookshelves for the Photo Hunt I thought you might see how a similar situation exists with my fridge, or my temporary photo gallery/filing cabinet.

Please feel free to post a photo of your fridge and don’t forget the two originators of the idea.

My SATURDAY PHOTO HUNT is below.
In my case, it’s the theme that is ORIGINAL
Well there’s not exactly a fridge meme, although Ian at Shades of Grey suggested the word when he posted a photo of his fridge here after Welshcakes of Sicily Scene posted several shots of hers, here and here.

But since you “enjoyed” the photos of my bookshelves for the Photo Hunt I thought you might see how a similar situation exists with my fridge, or my temporary photo gallery/filing cabinet.

Please feel free to post a photo of your fridge and don’t forget the two originators of the idea.

My SATURDAY PHOTO HUNT is below.
In my case, it’s the theme that is ORIGINAL

UPDATE: JMB has officially lost it. She copied down the theme as ordinary and never checked it again. ipanema has kindly pointed out that the theme is ORIGINAL! That’s too bad because JMB is going ahead, in her own ORIGINAL way, with her ORIGINAL post. She promises to get it together for next week.

ORDINARY

Commonly encountered; usual.
The usual or normal condition or course of events
the regular or customary condition

At our house we are “drowning” in books. We have a large house and today I counted twelve bookcases which hold our books, usually at least two rows deep and sometimes three. They also seem to rest on every flat surface except in our living room where two quite tidy bookcases reside and there are no bookcovered surfaces. But in every other room the ordinary everyday situation regarding books is shown below. But I can also tell you what books I own and in which of the twelve bookcases or on which flat surface you will find any one of these books.


Only two rows deep in this bookcase in the family room, but rather chaotic


One of three bookcases in my bedroom, the smallest,
yes, in the cupboard below too,
totally out of control

Two deep, on top of my bedroom chest of drawers
A rather eclectic mix, it’s true.

So many books, so little time!

UPDATE: JMB has officially lost it. She copied down the theme as ordinary and never checked it again. ipanema has kindly pointed out that the theme is ORIGINAL! That’s too bad because JMB is going ahead, in her own ORIGINAL way, with her ORIGINAL post. She promises to get it together for next week.

ORDINARY

Commonly encountered; usual.
The usual or normal condition or course of events
the regular or customary condition

At our house we are “drowning” in books. We have a large house and today I counted twelve bookcases which hold our books, usually at least two rows deep and sometimes three. They also seem to rest on every flat surface except in our living room where two quite tidy bookcases reside and there are no bookcovered surfaces. But in every other room the ordinary everyday situation regarding books is shown below. But I can also tell you what books I own and in which of the twelve bookcases or on which flat surface you will find any one of these books.


Only two rows deep in this bookcase in the family room, but rather chaotic


One of three bookcases in my bedroom, the smallest,
yes, in the cupboard below too,
totally out of control

Two deep, on top of my bedroom chest of drawers
A rather eclectic mix, it’s true.

So many books, so little time!

After our interesting journey to Philadelphia, described here, and after checking into our hotel, we set out on foot for Independence National Historical Park and, as the brochure says:

“where so much of our (meaning American) Colonial, Revolutionary and Federal-period heritage is preserved.”

Several years ago, while in Washington, DC, we visited the National Archives where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are displayed, now sealed in argon gas, in their newly renovated home in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom*. The room was softly lit and people waited quietly in line to enter the rotunda and slowly filed past the various documents, stopping to inspect them more closely on occasion and even though I am not American I found it a quite moving experience.

But it was here, in Philadelphia, in the Pennsylvania State House, in June 1776, at a meeting of the Continental Congress, that Virginia delegate Richard Lee proposed that the colonies, now in armed conflict with England, be proclaimed free and independent states. Thomas Jefferson drafted the formal declaration, with revisions by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, and the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776. That night John Dunlap, official printer, hastily produced an unknown number of printed copies and these were dispatched next morning around the colonies. Twenty four of these copies, Dunlap Broadsides as they are known, remain in existence today.

On several occasions the US Supreme Court held sessions in this room which was the courthouse in the building

Of course I learned all this on the tour we took of Independence Hall, as the State House is now known, with a Park ranger. Rather a bored one I might add, as he gave this talk for the millionth time I am sure, but rather unenthusiastically. Perhaps it was because it was one of the last tours of the day which we managed to join without the palaver of getting tickets at the Visitors’ Centre, elsewhere in the park, and returning later.



The restored Assembly Room in Independence Hall where the Declaration and the Constitution were hammered out and finally signed

In 1781 the new nation adopted the Articles of Confederation, however, in 1787, a Convention was called in Philadelphia to reform these and delegates put together and signed the Constitution which was finally ratified by the last of the states in June 1788. Philadelphia became the nation’s temporary capital in 1790 while the permanent site in Washington, DC, was readied and in 1800 the US Government moved to the current capital city.


A side room, restored with furniture of the period.


Another room inside the Hall, restored as a Guards’ room


Finally, if you are still with me, for your amusement, from this site:

Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress.
Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the
Declaration of Independence. Franklin discovered electricity by rubbing two
cats backwards and declared, A horse divided against itself cannot stand.
Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.


*The Rotunda for the Charter of Freedoms in the National Archives taken from here.
Click to enlarge, if it pleases you. It is indeed an impressive setting for these historic documents.

Excuse the spacing above, it looks fine in the preview but somewhat awry on publishing.
If I knew how to fix it I would.

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