The famous cracked bell symbolizing American independence

Photo by William Warby

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The Liberty Bell is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is seen by many people as being the symbol of American independence from Great Britain. The Liberty Bell is famous for a couple of reasons, and it is easy to recognize because it is cracked. Bells were used before cell phones and sirens to let people know something important was happening. Some bells were rung to let people know there was a fire, and at times they were rung when someone important had died. Sometimes bells were rung to let people know good things had happened. When the Declaration of Independence was read out loud to the people of Philadelphia on July 8th of 1776, the Liberty Bell was one of the many bells that were rung in celebration.

The first time the Liberty Bell cracked was on its first ringing in America. It had been purchased by the city of Philadelphia from a metal workshop, called a foundry, in London, England. They paid 199 dollars for the bell, and it was brought over by ship to America in 1752. The very first time the bell was rung, the rim of the bell cracked. The government of Philadelphia tried to send the bell back to England on the ship it arrived on, but they would not take it back with them. Two metal-workers in Philadelphia offered to fix the bell, instead. Their names were John Pass and John Stow. Neither of them had fixed a bell before, and on their first try they didn’t do very well. When the townspeople rang the bell, it sounded funny so John Pass and John Stow had to try again.

During the Revolutionary War, people in Philadelphia were afraid that the bells in their city would be melted down by the British to become round bullets to be used in musket guns. To stop this from happening, the Liberty Bell was put on a horse-drawn wagon and taken to Allentown, Pennsylvania and hidden under the floor of a church. The Liberty Bell didn’t go back to Philadelphia until after the British were gone, in 1778. Today, the Liberty Bell is in its own building next to Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

There are a lot of different stories about how the bell became cracked the second time. Most people think it happened when Chief Justice John Marshall died, and the bell was rung in his memory in 1835. Other people think it happened between 1841 and 1845 when celebrating the birthday of George Washington, or on the 4th of July. Either way, the crack in the bell has never been fixed and you can still see the crack today.

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