“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
The sight and sound of a ringing bell on the Fourth of July symbolizes freedom to most Americans and brings to mind the Liberty Bell, which rang out in Philadelphia when the new country was born.
The Liberty Bell once hung in the Old State House, which later became Independence Hall, in Philadelphia. It was rung at every important national event, such as presidential elections, statesmen’s funerals, and of course, the Fourth of July. The bell came to Philadelphia from a foundry in England in 1752. But the very first time the bell was rung, it cracked! Repairs were made and for the next eighty-three years, the bell tolled on special occasions—the most significant on July 8, 1776 to announce the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Sometime after 1846, the Liberty Bell cracked again and it was removed from the bell tower to protect it from further damage. It was placed on display in Independence Hall. Today, the bell is housed in the Liberty Bell Center, which is open to visitors year round, and is part of the Independence National Historic Park.
At one time, the foundry in England that had made the bell generously offered to take the cracked bell, melt it down and cast it anew, at no charge. But American officials decided to keep the old Liberty Bell as it was. They felt that the American people loved the old bell, and that the crack in the bell was a cherished part of its character and legacy.