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The Liberty Bell is one of the most iconic and historical symbols of the United States of America.
So How Much Does The Liberty Bell Weigh?
The Liberty Bell weighs in at 2,080 pounds (900 kg).
It stands three feet in height and has a circumference of six feet 11 inches at the crown and twelve feet around its lip.
Crafted in London, England in 1752, the Liberty Bell was installed in the Pennsylvania State House. That building is now called Independence Hall.
What Is The Liberty Bell Made Of?
It is made from many different metals. These include bronze, copper, tin, gold, arsenic, zinc and silver.
It also features a yolk that is crafted out of American elm and this yoke weighs 100 pounds.
What Was The Liberty Bell First Called?
Initially, it was called the ‘State House Bell’. But, it was given its current name of the ‘Liberty Bell’ by abolitionists who were trying to stop slavery in the United States.
Today, the bell resides in the Liberty Bell Center. It sits in Independence National Historical Park.
How Did The Bell Get Its Infamous Crack?
No one is for sure today.
Speculation is that it was cracked when it was first tested after arriving in the United States.
What Is The Meaning?
Over the years, the Liberty Bell has become a symbol for freedom. It has played a role in many cultural and historical changes in the United States.
It was even used as a symbol of peace to unite the country after the American Civil War in the 1800’s.
The Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell bears a timeless message: “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof”
Go beyond the iconic crack to learn how this State House bell was transformed into an extraordinary symbol. Abolitionists, women’s suffrage advocates and Civil Rights leaders took inspiration from the inscription on this bell. Plan your visit to the Liberty Bell Center to allow time to view the exhibits, see the film, and gaze upon the famous cracked bell. No tickets are required and hours vary seasonally.
From Signal to Symbol
The State House bell, now known as the Liberty Bell, rang in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House. Today, we call that building Independence Hall. Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly Isaac Norris first ordered a bell for the bell tower in 1751 from the Whitechapel Foundry in London. That bell cracked on the first test ring. Local metalworkers John Pass and John Stow melted down that bell and cast a new one right here in Philadelphia.
It’s this bell that would ring to call lawmakers to their meetings and the townspeople together to hear the reading of the news. Benjamin Franklin wrote to Catherine Ray in 1755, “Adieu, the Bell rings, and I must go among the Grave ones and talk Politicks.” It’s not until the 1830’s that the old State House bell would begin to take on significance as a symbol of liberty.
No one recorded when or why the Liberty Bell first cracked, but the most likely explanation is that a narrow split developed in the early 1840’s after nearly 90 years of hard use.
In 1846, when the city decided to repair the bell prior to George Washington’s birthday holiday (February 23), metal workers widened the thin crack to prevent its farther spread and restore the tone of the bell using a technique called “stop drilling”. The wide “crack” in the Liberty Bell is actually the repair job!
Look carefully and you’ll see over 40 drill bit marks in that wide “crack”. But, the repair was not successful. The Public Ledger newspaper reported that the repair failed when another fissure developed. This second crack, running from the abbreviation for “Philadelphia” up through the word “Liberty”, silenced the bell forever.
No one living today has heard the bell ring freely with its clapper, but computer modeling provides some clues into the sound of the Liberty Bell.
The Liberty Bell’s inscription is from the Bible (King James version): “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof.”
This verse refers to the “Jubilee”, or the instructions to the Israelites to return property and free slaves every 50 years. Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly Isaac Norris chose this inscription for the State House bell in 1751, possibly to commemorate the 50th anniversary of William Penn’s 1701 Charter of Privileges which granted religious liberties and political self-government to the people of Pennsylvania.
The inscription of liberty on the State House bell (now known as the Liberty Bell) went unnoticed during the Revolutionary War. After the war, abolitionists seeking to end slavery in America were inspired by the bell’s message.
The State House bell became a herald of liberty in the 19th century. “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof,” the bell’s inscription, provided a rallying cry for abolitionists wishing to end slavery.
The Anti-Slavery Record, an abolitionist publication, first referred to the bell as the Liberty Bell in 1835, but that name was not widely adopted until years later. Millions of Americans became familiar with the bell in popular culture through George Lippard’s 1847 fictional story “Ring, Grandfather, Ring”, when the bell came to symbolize pride in a new nation.
Beginning in the late 1800s, the Liberty Bell traveled across the country for display at expositions and fairs, stopping in towns small and large along the way. For a nation recovering from wounds of the Civil War, the bell served to remind Americans of a time when they fought together for independence.
Movements from Women’s Suffrage to Civil Rights embraced the Liberty Bell for both protest and celebration. Pennsylvania suffragists commissioned a replica of the Liberty Bell. Their “Justice Bell” traveled across Pennsylvania in 1915 to encourage support for women’s voting rights legislation.
It then sat chained in silence until the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Now a worldwide symbol, the bell’s message of liberty remains just as relevant and powerful today: “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof”
The two lines of text around the top of the bell include the inscription of liberty, and information about who ordered the bell (Pennsylvania Assembly) and why (to go in their State House):
Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof Lev. XXV X
The information on the face of the bell tells us who cast the bell (John Pass and John Stow), where (Philadelphia) and when (1753):
The bell weighed 2,080 lbs. at order. It is made of bronze. It’s 70% copper, 25% tin and contains small amounts of lead, gold, arsenic, silver, and zinc. The bell’s wooden yoke is American elm, but there is no proof that it is the original yoke for this bell. While there is evidence that the bell rang to mark the Stamp Act tax and its repeal, there is no evidence that the bell rang on July 4 or 8, 1776.
Lesson plans about the Liberty Bell are available on the park’s “For Teachers” page. “The Liberty Bell: From Obscurity to Icon”, a Teaching with Historic Places lesson plan, is also available on the web.
There are two other bells in the park today, in addition to the Liberty Bell. The Centennial Bell, made for the nation’s 100th birthday in 1876, still rings every hour in the tower of Independence Hall. It weighs 13,000 lbs. – a thousand pounds for each original state. The Bicentennial Bell was a gift to the people of the United States from the people of Great Britain in 1976. That bell is currently in storage.
Origin of the Bell & Tower
The Liberty Bell is the first true replica of the original Liberty Bell in Philadelphia as it was first cast. Liberty’s bell weighs 2,016 pounds and was made at the Whitechapel Foundry in London in 1960.
The bell was given to the citizens of Liberty by Sallie and Nadine Woods, founders of the Liberty Muscular Dystrophy Research Foundation, the first national foundation to fund muscular dystrophy research. The Woods sisters, natives of Liberty, were both victims of muscular dystrophy.
The bell tower was built in time to honor the 200th anniversary of our nation’s founding, and the City of Liberty was awarded a certification as a National and State Bicentennial City because of the uniqueness of Liberty’s bell and bell tower project.
The ringing dedication of the tower was held on April 24, 1976, the date of Liberty’s Bicentennial celebration. The bell tower was Liberty’s gift to the nation, representing a permanent monument reflecting pride in the past and hope for the future.