Monday, September 19, 2011

Philadelphia: The City of Brotherly Love

"RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: Dedicated to the people of the United States by the Order of B'nai B'rith and Israelites of America"

Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, Philadelphia was the home of the Lenape natives. William Penn, an Englishman and a Quaker, was granted a large piece of land by the King of England and, as a result, Penn established the Pennsylvania colony. He also planned the city of Philadelphia, which means “City of Brotherly Love”. Penn wanted his colony to be a haven from religious persecution, and as a result Pennsylvania was more tolerant and had somewhat better relationships with native tribes than did other colonies. During the Colonial Era Philadelphia was the largest city and busiest port in all the thirteen colonies. Like Pittsburgh, it was established on two rivers for easy transportation—the Delaware and the Schuylkill. Its importance led to Philadelphia being chosen as the site of the establishment of the United States of America where both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were crafted.

Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were approved. The building is currently being restored and preserved.

It is awe inspiring to stand in the very room where George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, among others, worked to create the United States of America. The chair Washington sat in as he presided over the proceedings still sits in the room where this important work was accomplished. As visitors walk through Independence Hall they are stepping on hallowed ground. It is easy to picture Washington sitting in that chair overseeing the momentous events that were occurring around him.

This is the room where George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and others approved the United States Constitution.
The large chair behind the table is the very chair that George Washington sat in when he presided over the Constitutional Convention.
Originally built as the state house where Pennsylvania lawmakers met, Independence Hall became the chief meeting place of the Second Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention. Next door to Independence Hall sits Congress Hall, which served as a home for the United States Congress when Philadelphia was the capital of the United States (1790-1800). After that, Washington, D.C. was named the new capital and the government moved there. 

Congress Hall sits next to Independence Hall.
  In 1793, President George Washington was inaugurated for his second term as president in Congress Hall. Four years later the reins of power were passed from George Washington to John Adams, the first peaceful transition of government in the new country. When the ceremony ended, the new president, John Adams, waited for George Washington to exit first, but Washington insisted that the new president lead the way. Perhaps the most important thing to happen in Congress Hall was the ratification of Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution that provide Americans important freedoms.
This large clock is situated on the side of Independence Hall.
Congress met in this room, and George Washington was inaugurated for his second term as president here. The transition from President Washington to President John Adams also occurred in this room.
"I ask you ... to adopt the principles proclaimed by yourselves, by your revolutionary fathers, and by the old bell in Independence Hall." --Frederick Douglass 
Liberty Bell
Before other means of alerting citizens were invented, large bells were used because their sound could be heard for great distances. Early on, the Liberty Bell, set atop what is now called Independence Hall, was used to notify citizens of important matters and public meetings. It also was used to call legislators to sessions.

In 1752, the Liberty Bell was commissioned from the London firm of Lester and Pack. After it arrived in Philadelphia, the bell was tested, and it cracked. John Pass and John Stow, whose last names appear on the bell, twice recast it. The lettering on the bell states, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." The bell was used as a symbol for the women’s suffrage movement and was rung on August 29, 1920 to commemorate the signing of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting women the vote.

Timeline of Events Related to the Liberty Bell
1753 After arriving in Philadelphia from England, the bell was recast because it cracked while being tested.
1777 Patriots took the bell out of Philadelphia to keep the British from capturing it when they occupied Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War.
1846 Workers repaired the bell after it cracked sometime in the early 1800s. The repair was only briefly successful so the bell was removed from service.
1852 The bell was moved from Independence Hall because it could no longer ring.
1915 A “spider” placed inside the bell has kept the crack from worsening.
2003 A new building to protect, preserve, and display the Liberty Bell was constructed. The bell is now housed there.
Measurements of the Liberty Bell: 
--At its widest point the circumference is 12 feet.
--The bell's height is 3 feet.
--Length of clapper is 3 feet 2 inches.
--Thickness at the bottom is 3 inches.
--The bell weighs 2,080 pounds, a little more than a ton.

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