The Liberty Bell is a bell that symbolizes the American Independence. Although no actual historical record exists, it is widely believed today that the Liberty Bell was rung when the United States Declaration of Independence was first read out publicly. The bell became widely recognized and became a national icon only towards mid 19th century.
The Liberty Bell traces its history back to the mid 18th century. The city of Philadelphia had long been using a bell to mark important announcements and events such as public meeting, sessions of the state legislature and civic dangers such as floods.
When the city significantly expanded, a need was felt to use a larger bell which could be heard over greater distances. It was in 1751 that the civic authorities ordered a new bell to be brought to Pennsylvania from London. The bell was going to be used in a bell tower that was being built at the Pennsylvania State House at the time.
The Liberty Bell arrived from London to Philadelphia in August 1752. Soon after it arrived, it was struck to be tested for its sound – at the very first strike, it developed a crack. The bell was then melted and re-cast. When it was sounded again at a public event, it again sounded odd. So it was melted and recast once more. The bell was later used to mark the accession of the King George II to the British throne.
In 1775, the American Revolutionary War broke out. By 1776, the American colonies had decided to sever all ties with the British crown. This was proclaimed in the famous Declaration of Independence. The Declaration was signed on July 4, 1776. Public readings of the Declaration began on July 8.
To summon the people to the public meetings where the Declaration was being read, bells were rung in Philadelphia. According to historical accounts, the Liberty Bell was one of the bells to be rung.
The Liberty Bell remained largely obscure and unknown for many decades after the independence of the United States. It reentered the imagination of the American people in 1847 when a story was published about the bell and its purported ringing at the time of the Declaration of Independence.
The story largely contributed to a resurges in the fame of the bell. To make the bell more visible to the public, it was moved to the Assembly Room. The Assembly Room was later visited by Presidents Franklin Pierce, Abraham Lincoln as well as various other notables.
By the late 19th century, the Liberty Bell had become a veritable icon of the nation and synonymous with the American independence itself. It was seen by many as a piece of the American heritage and history. To celebrate this iconic status, Philadelphia officials decided to take the Liberty Bell on a tour to the expositions and celebrations of the 1876 Centennial celebrations.