Mother Visits the Liberty Bell (1930)

Grace Newswanger lived in Quarryville, the borough in southern Lancaster County of southeast Pennsylvania.,_Pennsylvania

In June of 1930, Grace received a postcard from her mother who was in Philadelphia.

The face of the postcard shows the Liberty Bell, perhaps the most-known symbol of the War for Independence.

The bell was commissioned by the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly in 1752, and cast in England.

For the first century of its existence, the bell was known as the “State House Bell”.

As was typical of most bells in England, the Liberty Bell was embossed with a scriptural quotation.

For the State House Bell, the scriptural inscription was prophetic:

“”Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof”, a Biblical reference from the Book of Leviticus (25:10).

Hung in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House (now, Independence Hall), the bell cracked on its initial peal.

It was repaired twice in Philadelphia, and was used to summon the members to meetings of the Pennsylvania Assembly.

Contrary to popular misconception, the bell was not rung on July 4, 1776, but on July 8 to celebrate the first public reading of the new Declaration of Independence.

After the defeat of the Continental Army at Brandywine in 1777, the bell was hidden in Allentown, PA so that it could not be taken by the British who occupied Philadelphia.

By 1830, the bell had fallen into relative obscurity, until it was rechristened the “Liberty Bell” and adopted by abolitionist societies.

The City of Philadelphia permitted the bell to be exhibited in several locations in the late 19th century, but asked the National Park Service to take custody of the bell after World War II.

This postcard was published by P. Sander of Philadelphia while the bell was displayed in Independence Hall.

In 1976, the bell was moved from Independence Hall to a new exhibit center, and to a larger “Liberty Bell Center” in 2003.

In her postcard to Grace, Mrs. Newswanger mentions that “It’s very pleasant in the city”.

One hopes that Grace had an opportunity to visit Philadelphia and to see the Liberty Bell.


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