The Liberty Bell is a treasured pre-Revolutionary War relic that was first hung on June 7, 1753 in the tower of the newly finished Pennsylvania State House ... the building that would eventually become Independence Hall.
The Liberty Bell was ordered in 1751 and was first cast in London, England. It arrived in Philadelphia in August, 1752 and was cracked "by a stroke of the clapper during a test without any other violence." It was melted down, and a second bell was cast in April 1753, but this one was also defective. A third was cast in June of that year, by Pass and Stowe, "two ingenious workmen" of Philadelphia.
In the re-casting, the English model was broken up and the same metal was used with the addition of one and one-half ounces of American copper to the pound of the old bell metal to make the bell less brittle. The same form and lettering were preserved with the substitution of the names of the founders, the place and year of re-casting.
It weighs over 2,080 pounds (943 kilograms) and is 12 feet (3.7 m) in circumference at the lip. The colonial province of Pennsylvania paid about $300 for it.
It became known as the "Liberty Bell" about 1839, when abolitionists began to refer to it that way. Previously, the bell had been called the "State House Bell."
The inscription on the bell, "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof," is taken from the Bible (Lev. 25:10).
It was rung on July 8, 1776, with other church bells, after the public reading of the Declaration of Independence.
In 1777, during the American Revolution, British troops occupied Philadelphia. The bell was removed from the tower and hidden in Allentown, Pennsylvania for safekeeping. It was returned to Philadelphia and replaced in Independence Hall in 1778.
Thereafter, the bell was rung on every July 4 and on every state occasion until 1835, at which time its mission was ended. It was then that the Liberty Bell cracked, not on July 4, 1776 as is often believed. John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, died on July 6, 1835. On July 8, exactly fifty nine years to the day of the anniversary of the Proclamation of the Declaration of Independence to the people, his remains were borne from Philadelphia to his native state, Virginia, for burial. During the funeral, the Liberty Bell, while softly tolling, cracked through its side.
The Liberty Bell is no longer rung, but it has been struck on special occasions. On June 6, 1944, when Allied forces landed in France, Philadelphia officials struck the bell. Sound equipment broadcast the tone to all parts of the nation.
Independence Hall was the permanent residence of the bell from 1753 until January 1, 1976, when it was moved to its present location, a glass pavilion, just north of Independence Hall.