Liberty Bell Not All Its Cracked Up To Be

Arthur S. Mole "Human Liberty Bell" (1918) Featuring 12,500 soldiers

Arthur S. Mole "Human Liberty Bell" (1918) Featuring 12,500 soldiers


On This Date in History:  There are many things that are supposed to be a part of history that is really more of a myth.  I suppose some items sound so good or had been part of a long ago propaganda campaign that was so brilliant that the myth became reality.  I’m not sure of the origin of the story of the Liberty Bell, but the myth does sound better than the truth.


The story always was that the Liberty Bell was cracked on July 4, 1776.  Supposedly a small boy came running to Independence Hall in Philadelphia with the news that independence had been declared.  Upon hearing the news, the feeble old man who was in charge of ringing the bell got so excited that he pulled the clapper with such ferocity that he cracked the bronze bell.  Now, the bell itself found its way to Philadelphia in 1751 and had nothing to do with national liberty, but instead the bell had been ordered from London to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pennsylvania’s democratic constitution.  Remember, it wasn’t until the latter part of the 18th Century that America began to get any sense of nationalism.  The bell was inscribed with the words “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All The Land Unto the Inhabitants Thereof.”  It was hung in the steeple of what was then the State House, later to be known as Independence Hall.

Liberty Bell Used As Political Tool For Nearly 200 Years

Liberty Bell Used As Political Tool For Nearly 200 Years

So, if the bell wasn’t cracked through the steroid induced efforts of a little old man, then how was it cracked?  It was first cracked before it really got going.  The first time they tested it, a crack developed.  So, it was melted down, recast and hung again.  Though its not entirely clear exactly when it cracked again, speculation is that when it was rung to mark the death of US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall in 1835, the bell split again.  The trouble with that idea is that the clappers probably would have been muffled.  What is certain is that on this date in 1846, the bell tolled for the last time to mark the birth of George Washington.  I have no idea why they did not toll the bell on February 22, which was Washington’s true birthday except that February 22, 1846 fell on a Sunday that year…as it did in 2009!  My guess is that Sunday’s were considered the Sabbath and so such activities were put off until Monday.


Bell Used To Sell Mugs

Bell Used To Sell Mugs

Now, the Liberty Bell was not always known as the Liberty Bell.  It wasn’t until 1839 that abolitionists borrowed the bell as a symbol of their struggle to end the practice of slavery because of the inscription proclaiming Liberty across the land.  The story about the little boy telling the old man about the Declaration of Independence and the man ringing the bell on July 4, 1776 and cracking it was made up to help sell books.  Truth is, the news of the declaration wasn’t made public until July 8, 1776.  A guy named George Lippard invented the story in 1847 for his book, Washington and His Generals or Legends of the American Revolution.  That kind of thing makes one wonder how many more “legends” were put forth in that book and then accepted as fact by history teachers.  See…that’s one way how myths get created in the first place. 

Popular 1898 Slot Machine

Popular 1898 Slot Machine

So, the bell from the outset was used as a prop for someone’s cause or purpose.  The name Liberty Bell was created to help symbolize the struggle for abolition.  Lippard used the bell to fill some pages of a book and help line his pockets.  A San Francisco entrepreneur, Charles Fey, thought in 1898 it would be great for a slot machine jackpot symbol.  Thus, the Liberty Bell machine came into being.  People use the image to sell shirts and neckties and coffee mugs.  Even Uncle Sam used the imagery when Liberty Bonds were sold to help finance the war.    Then of course, there are banks in almost every state that use the name “Liberty” asi f your money is safer there.

So, it turns out that the Liberty Bell, conceived simply to commemorate the constitution of a colony has ever since been used as either a political tool or prop to increaswe commercial profits.  And you know what…that in itself sounds pretty American to me…that is unless the Federal Government doesn’t buy up all of the commercial interests.

Weather Bottom Line: I think the biggest alteration with the forecast for the week ahead is that the system that will lift out and probably result in some strong t’storms somewhere will not get here until later in the week.  Honestly, I haven’t done that much of an in depth study of it but something is preventing the long wave pattern from digging down in the middle of the week.  My guess is that there is probably a ridge upstream off of the maps that I have reviewed so, a little short wave that comes through late Wednesday  may bring some showers but the long wave pattern will not dig down, hence, no cold air.  On Thursday, we get the stronger storm coming up from the southwest.  Ahead will be a warm front that will continue rain chances on Thursday.  Then, late Thursday or early Friday, the storm comes by from Southwest to Northeast.  We could see some t’storms then.  After the storm passes, then the long wave pattern…the jet stream…digs down south and we get colder air back in for next weekend.  I still think it will be tough to get above freezing on Monday but some of you may  get to 35 or so for a little while.  I think we moderate on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday, perhaps pushing 50 by  Wednesday and then mid to upper 50’s perhaps on Thursday behind the warm front and ahead of the cold front.  GFS is wanting to extend prepitiation into the weekend in the form of some light snow but we’ll have to wait and see about that.  The Severe Storms Prediction Center  doesn’t even have any sort of outlook for the 4-8 day period as things have been pretty inconsistent.  I would think that eventually there will be some sort of severe threat later in the week for the South, but not probably not into the Ohio Valley.

4 Responses

  1. Just to follow up … has GREAT state maps of expected precip/snowfall…check it out!


  2. Earl Barker?

  3. I guess? are you familiar with these?

  4. Yup. The guy’s name is Earl Barker. But I have never seen any specific state maps. He has regions though.

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