Liberty Bell Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jenny Homer

Jenny has masters' degrees in public health and public administration.

This lesson talks about the Liberty Bell, which was originally called the State House Bell. Find out what words make the bell a symbol in the United States and how they have been used throughout American history.

The Liberty Bell

Sometimes an object can be a symbol that represents an idea. Can you think of a symbol of freedom in the United States?

The Liberty Bell is one symbol, but the bell wasn't always thought of this way. The Liberty Bell is a big, heavy, bronze bell with a crack in it. It was made in 1751 in London for the Pennsylvania State House (later called Independence Hall), where state laws are made. The bell weighed 2,080 pounds! This bell cracked right away, so a new bell had to be made in Philadelphia from the metal of the first one and was put up in 1753.

These words are written on the Liberty Bell: 'Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof.' It's from the Bible, and it means that everyone everywhere should have liberty or freedom. Surprisingly, no one paid much attention to these words when the United States was first becoming a country, but later they helped make the Liberty Bell an important symbol of freedom.

The Writing on the Side of the Liberty Bell
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The Liberty Bell as a Bell

When the Liberty Bell was first made, it was called the State House Bell because of its place in the Pennsylvania State House. When the bell rang, people would know there was big news or that a meeting was starting. Remember, this was long before people could get a phone call or email that they needed to be there, so the bell made it easy to get in touch with people in the city. One of these times was on July 8, 1776, when they read the Declaration of Independence for the first time! The Declaration of Independence said that the United States was becoming a new country -- what could be bigger news than that? During the War of Independence, the bell was taken down and hidden in a church to keep it safe.

The Liberty Bell as a Symbol

In the 1830s, abolitionists (people fighting to end slavery) used the words on the Liberty Bell in some of their writings. In one of these papers, the State House Bell was first called the Liberty Bell. After the Civil War ended slavery, the Liberty Bell was shown in different cities and fairs around the United States.

The Liberty Bell on Tour in 1893
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