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Liberty Bell

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Among the more obscure events in American history involves the Liberty Bell's

travels by rail car around the United States to be placed on exhibit at numerous World's

Fairs. From 1885 to 1915, the Liberty Bell traveled by rail on seven separate trips to eight

different World's Fair exhibitions visiting nearly 400 cities and towns on those trips coast

to coast.

At the time, the Liberty Bell's trips were widely publicized so that each town

where the Liberty Bell train stopped was well prepared for their venerable guest. Each

stop on the way to the host World's Fair exhibition lasted anywhere from a few minutes to

a couple of hours. The Liberty Bell was nearly always met with military salutes, parades,

patriotic music and throngs of cheering men, women and children.

In 1873, Philadelphian Henry Seybert donated to the City of Philadelphia a

new bell and a large clock for tower of Independence Hall. Seybert commissioned the

Meneely and Kimberly Bell Foundry to cast the bell and have it installed in the steeple by

July 4, 1876 in time to usher in the Centennial anniversary celebration.

The bell was cast using a mixture of 80% copper and 20% tin with the addition of one

hundred pounds each of four cannons - a British and American cannon from the battle of

Saratoga and a Union and Confederate cannon from the battle of Gettysburg.

The bell weighs 13,000 pounds representing 1,000 pounds for each of the 13

original states and bears the following inscriptions:

Around the crown: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men - Luke, chapter II, verse 14."

Around the lip: " Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof - Leviticus, chapter XXV, verse 10."

Upon one side of the of the bell is cast - "Presented to the city of Philadelphia, July

4, 1876, for the belfry of Independence Hall, by a citizen."

On the opposite side is the date "1776" and the coat of arms of the United States set in a shield containing 13 stars.

In addition, 38 stars representing the number of states in the Union in 1876 encircle the

waist of the bell.

The first casting of Henry Seybert's bell did not meet with his expectations in terms

of tonal quality. It was recast following the Centennial and was judged much improved. It

is this bell that hangs in the tower of Independence Hall today.

In the early years following the Civil War, the first request for the Liberty Bell's

presence at a World's Fair was sent to the City of Philadelphia. In late 1884, S. Prentiss

Nutt, Special Commissioner for the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition,

wrote to Philadelphia Mayor William B. Smith requesting that the Liberty Bell be sent to

New Orleans for the opening of the exposition the following year.

The desire for unity by both the North and the South is evident in the request for

the Bell and the reply from Philadelphia. Special Commissioner Nutt declared that sending

the Liberty Bell to New Orleans would:

"meet with the universal approbation and the heartiest greetings of all the people of

the South.

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