TwHP Lessons

The Liberty Bell:
From Obscurity to Icon

[Cover image] Liberty Bell with the Declaration of Independence
(Harpers Ferry Center Commissioned Art Collection,
National Park Service)

R

esidents of Philadelphia in 1776 would not have been able to direct a visitor to the "Liberty Bell." It was there--ringing out from the tower of the Pennsylvania State House--but it had yet to be transformed into an international symbol of liberty. By the time the grandchildren of those early Philadelphians were grandparents themselves, however, they could easily have directed a visitor to the site of the famous Liberty Bell. It was still housed at the old State House, but by then the building had been renamed Independence Hall.

Shaped by national and world events, the power of the 2,000-pound Liberty Bellís message grows in strength: a wreath is laid beneath the bell to commemorate the Thirteenth Amendment, which made slavery illegal in the United States; a crowd gathers outside the Liberty Bell Pavilion for a candlelight vigil to exercise their First Amendment right to disagree with their government; and tourists from all over the world come to see this international symbol of freedom.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. Philadelphia & the surrounding area, 1777
 2. Philadelphia
 3. Independence Hall & Liberty Bell Pavilion

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. The Growth of a Symbol
 2. The Crack in the Liberty Bell
 3. Going on Tour
 4. Timetable of part of the Liberty
 Bell's trip home

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Gen. John J. Pershing at the
spacerLiberty Bell, 1919

 2. Liberty Bell in Scranton, PA, 1915
 3. Liberty Bell on tour for the
 Louisiana Exposition, 1904

 4. Liberty Bell passing through
 Connecticut, 1903

 5. Liberty Bell Pavilion, 1995
 6. The Child's History of the United States, 1878

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. Why Is the Crack in the Liberty Bell
 So Important?

 2. What Do Symbols Tell Us about Ourselves?
 3. Symbols in the Local Community

Supplementary Resources

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Independence National
Historical Park


This lesson is based on the Independence National Historical Park, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

 

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