Imagine it’s July 2, 1776; it’s a beautiful day and the Liberty Bell is rung to announce the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
You wouldn’t know it then, but down the years there’s always been a thrill to hear it ring. Several days ago we celebrated the ringing of that bell in 1776 and we today realize how important it was.
We all know because of the crack in the bell it was decided it couldn’t be rung many years later, but while reading an article in a periodical it listed the time it was registered when it was. I believe we at one time in our school days learned this but how many remember?
On July 2, 1776 the Liberty Bell was rung to announce the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
On Oct. 14, 1781, it was rung to celebrate the surrender of Lord Cornwallis of the English forces, and the virtual close of the Revolutionary War.
April 6, 1783, it announced the proclamation of peace with Great Britain.
Sept. 29, 1824 it was rung to welcome Lafayette, the famous French general who had assisted Washington, to Independence Hall.
July 4, 1826, it tolled to announce the death of Thomas Jefferson, principal author of the Declaration of Independence.
July 14, 1826, it ushered in “The Year of Jubilee,” the 50th anniversary of the American Republic.
July 4, 1831, the famous bell ran for the last time on Independence Day.
Feb. 22, 1832, the bell was rung to commemorate the birth of George Washington. Later in the same year it tolled to announce the death of the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence – Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Ga.
July 21, 1834, it tolled again for the death of the Marquis de Lafayette.
July 8, 1835, while it was being tolled for the death of Chief Justice John Marshall, a crack developed.
On Feb. 22, 1843, when an attempt was being made to ring the bell on Washington’s birthday, the fracture increased to such an extent that no effort was made to ring it for decades.
But on June 6, 1944 the Bell was struck to commemorate the ending of World War II. In January 1976, the Bell was moved to the Pavilion in Philadelphia where it has remained.
Other little-known facts that I find interesting was the fact that the bell became widely famous after an 1847 short story claimed that an aged bell-ringer rang it on July 4, 1776 upon hearing of the Second Continental Congress’ vote for Independence. While the bell could not have been rung on that Fourth of July, as no announcement of the Declaration was made that day, the tale was widely accepted as fact, even by some historians.
Beginning in 1885 the City of Philadelphia, which owns the bell, allowed it to go to various expositions and patriotic gatherings. The bell attracted huge crowds wherever it went; additional cracking occurred and pieces were chipped away by souvenir hunters. The last such journey occurred in 1915, after which the city refused further requests. After World War II, the city allowed the National Park Service to take custody of the bell, while retaining ownership.