5 Things You Didn't Know About the Liberty Bell

On July 8, 1776, the Liberty Bell was supposedly rung to announce the Declaration of Independence. But did it?  See how much you know about the history of this iconic image of American history...


Despite Its Name, the Liberty Bell Probably Wasn’t Rung on the First Independence Day. # The bell at the Pennsylvania State House did not become popular as a symbol of America until the 1830s when abolitionists began calling it the Liberty Bell. The bell, if it was rung at all on July 4, 1776, would not have sounded until July 8 because it took several days for the Declaration of Independence to be printed. However, on July 8, bells were ringing all over the city of Philadelphia, calling people to come hear Colonel John Nixon’s public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Because the bell tower holding the Liberty Bell was in dubious condition at the time, it cannot be certain that the bell was even rung that day.

Patriots Hid the Liberty Bell Away During the Revolutionary War # The Liberty Bell is protected by glass and within view of Independence Hall. Before the British arrived to occupy Philadelphia in 1777, all of the bells around town, the Liberty Bell included, were taken out of the city. It was believed, and probably true, that the British would melt down the city’s bells to make cannons. After the Liberty Bell was taken down, it was hidden at the Zion Reformed Church at Allentown, Pennsylvania, underneath the floorboards, where it stayed until the danger was over.


The Bell Was Originally Ordered for a Celebration The Liberty Bell actually predates the American Revolution by about 26 years. It was commissioned by the Pennsylvania Assembly as a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Charter of Privileges granted by William Penn. It had been hanging in Independence Hall in Philadelphia since June 7, 1753, when the building was called the Pennsylvania State House.

No One Knows Exactly When The Bell Was Cracked The question of when the Liberty Bell acquired its famous fracture has been the subject of a good deal of historical debate. In the most commonly accepted account, the bell suffered a major break while tolling for the funeral of the chief justice of the United States, John Marshall, in 1835, and in 1846 the crack expanded to its present size while in use to mark Washington’s birthday. After that date, it was regarded as unsuitable for ringing, but it was still ceremoniously tapped on occasion to commemorate important events. On June 6, 1944, when Allied forces invaded France, the sound of the bell’s dulled ring was broadcast by radio across the United States.

The Liberty Bell Wasn’t The Original Name Of This Icon The bell was originally known as the State House Bell. In the late 1830s, it acquired the name of the Liberty Bell when it became a symbol of the anti-slavery movement.

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