Forged in Philadelphia in 1752 (from an earlier bell made in London), the Liberty Bell--with its message "Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof"-- was in use for decades, typically to call public meetings to order. Despite a popular misconception, it was not rung to proclaim the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and, indeed, did not become a symbol of American freedom until more than half a century later. No one is sure when or why the famous crack appeared but it is believed to have first formed as a tiny fracture in the 1840s, slowly widening with each ringing of the bell. In the background can be viewed Philadelphia's Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 and the Constitution written 11 years later. 

Pre-Contact to Reconstruction, Prehistory -1877Syllabus        Course Materials     







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