Liberty BellThe Liberty Bell is an American bell, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Its importance is largely based on mythologizing: a fictional story written by George Lippard in 1847 about an old bellman ringing the bell at the moment the Continental Congress declared independece has become the basis for patriotic lessons taught in elementary schools across the nation. It may perhaps be true that the bell was rung on July 8, 1776 to summon citizens for the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence, but it was not called the Liberty Bell until 1837, when it became a symbol of the abolitionist movement because of its cast inscription from Leviticus: "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof". The "Liberty" for which the bell was named is thus liberty for the enslaved Africans and not for the colonists of America. The bell is 70% copper, 25% tin, and contains other trace metals. It has a 12 foot circumference.
The bell received its first crack in 1752, the first time it was rung. It was originally cast in 1752 by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, and was recast (as a result of the crack) the next year. The exact date of the famous crack in the bell is unknown, but it was repaired and put back into service. It received its final and fatal crack in February 1846 when tolling for the birthday of George Washington. This final crack is an extension of the larger, repaired crack, but extends to the top of the bell.
The bell is now based permanently in Philadelphia, though it has traveled and been displayed at a number of events, including many world's fairs.
There was some controversy about the place built for the display of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. After the initial planning, it was realized that the location had previously been adjacent to where George Washington lived when he was in Philadelphia. Actually, the place the bell is displayed was found to have been near the quarters for the slaves owned by George Washington. The decision over whether to publicly note this fact in the display led to some debate.