On This Day, July 8, 1776 – The Liberty Bell Rings Out for Freedom

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1776 – A 2,000-pound copper-and-tin bell now known as the “Liberty Bell” rings out from the tower of the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, summoning citizens to the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Four days earlier, the historic document had been adopted by delegates to the Continental Congress, but the bell did not ring to announce the issuing of the document until the Declaration of Independence returned from the printer on July 8.

In 1751, to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of Pennsylvania’s original constitution, the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly ordered the bell to be constructed. After being cracked during a test, and then recast twice, the bell was hung from the State House steeple in June 1753. Rung to call the Pennsylvania Assembly together and to summon people for special announcements and events, it was also rung on important occasions, such as King George III’s 1761 ascension to the British throne and, in 1765, to call the people together to discuss Parliament’s controversial Stamp Act. With the outbreak of the American Revolution in April 1775, the bell was rung to announce the battles of Lexington and Concord. Its most famous tolling, however, was on July 8, 1776, when it summoned Philadelphia citizens for the first reading of the Declaration of Independence.

As the British advanced toward Philadelphia in the fall of 1777, the bell was removed from the city and hidden in Allentown to save it from being melted down by the British and used to make cannons. After the British defeat in 1781, the bell was returned to Philadelphia, which served as the nation’s capital from 1790 to 1800. In addition to marking important events, the bell tolled annually to celebrate George Washington’s birthday on February 22 and Independence Day on July 4. The name “Liberty Bell” was first coined in an 1839 poem in an abolitionist pamphlet.

The question of when the Liberty Bell acquired its famous fracture has been the subject of a good deal of historical debate. In the most commonly accepted account, the bell suffered a major break while tolling for the funeral of the chief justice of the United States, John Marshall, in 1835, and in 1846 the crack expanded to its present size while in use to mark Washington’s birthday. After that date, it was regarded as unsuitable for ringing, but it was still ceremoniously tapped on occasion to commemorate important events. On June 6, 1944, when Allied forces invaded France, the sound of the bell’s dulled ring was broadcast by radio across the United States.

In 1976, the Liberty Bell was moved to a new pavilion about 100 yards from Independence Hall in preparation for America’s bicentennial celebrations. It remains there today and is visited by more than 1 million people each year.


1099 – Christian soldiers on the First Crusade march around Jerusalem.

1608 – The first French settlement at Quebec was established by Samuel de Champlain.

1663 – King Charles II of England granted a charter to Rhode Island.

1693 – Uniforms for police in New York City were authorized.

1709 – Peter the Great defeated Charles XII at Poltava, in the Ukraine, The Swedish empire was effectively ended.

1755 – Britain broke off diplomatic relations with France as their disputes in the New World intensified.

1794 – French troops captured Brussels, Belgium.

1795 – Kent County Free School changed its name to Washington College. It was the first college to be named after U.S. President George Washington. The school was established by an act of the Maryland Assembly in 1723.

1815 – Louis XVIII returned to Paris after the defeat of Napoleon.

1879 – The first ship to use electric lights departed from San Francisco, CA.

1881 – Edward Berner, druggist in Two Rivers, WI, poured chocolate syrup on ice cream in a dish. To this time chocolate syrup had only been used for making ice-cream sodas.

1889The Wall Street Journal was first published.

1889 – John L. Sullivan defeated Jake Kilrain, in the last championship bare-knuckle fight. The fight lasted 75 rounds.

1907 – Florenz Ziegfeld staged his first “Follies” on the roof of the New York Theater in New York City.

1947 – Demolition work began in New York City for the new permanent headquarters of the United Nations.

1950 – General Douglas MacArthur was named commander-in-chief of United Nations forces in Korea.

1953 – Notre Dame announced that the next five years of its football games would be shown in theatres over closed circuit TV.

1960 – The Soviet Union charged Gary Powers with espionage. He was shot down in a U-2 spy plane.

1963 – All Cuban-owned assets in the United States were frozen.


1966 – The U.S. Patent Office issued a patent for the game “Twister.”


1981 – The Solar Challenger became the frist solar-powered airplane to cross the English Channel.

1986 – Kurt Waldheim was inaugurated as president of Austria despite controversy over his alleged ties to Nazi war crimes.

1997 – NATO invited Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to join the alliance in 1999.

2010 – The Solar Impulse completed the first 24-hour flight by a solar powered plane.

 

Source: On-This-Day.com; History.com