• Congress Voting Independence

    Independence

    National Historical Park Pennsylvania

Independence Hall

Independence Hall
Independence Hall, Chestnut Street facade
NPS photo
 

Independence Hall is the birthplace of America. The Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were both debated and signed inside this building.

Built between 1732 and 1756 to be the Pennsylvania State House, the building originally housed all three branches of Pennsylvania's colonial government. The Pennsylvania legislature loaned their Assembly Room out for the meetings of the Second Continental Congress and later, the Constitutional Convention. Here, George Washington was appointed Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in 1775, the Articles of Confederation were adopted in 1781, and Benjamin Franklin gazed upon the "Rising Sun" chair in 1787.

There is much history to explore - from the Georgian architecture, to Peale's Museum, to fugitive slave trials - in addition to the story of the founding of the nation.

 
Assembly Room of Independence Hall

Assembly Room of Independence Hall

NPS photo

The Assembly Room
The Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were both signed in this room. Later, the room became a shrine to the founding of the nation, proudly displaying the Liberty Bell and original paintings of the Founding Fathers. That was the scene when President-elect Abraham Lincoln visited the Assembly Room and praised the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Following his assassination, Lincoln's body lay in repose here for two days. Visitors today can ponder their own role in the on-going experiment in self-government.

 
Independence Hall courtroom

Courtroom on the first floor of Independence Hall.

NPS photo

Courtroom of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania sat in this room in the 1700's. On July 8, 1776, an act of defiance occurred here when a group of Pennsylvania militiamen stormed in and tore down British King George III's coat of arms. A hundred years later, visitors came to this room during the Centennial to experience the National Museum, a collection of artifacts celebrating the founding of the nation,

 
Long gallery of Independence Hall

Long Gallery on the second floor of Independence Hall

NPS photo

Long Gallery
The Long Gallery on the second floor of Independence Hall served as a reception area for visitors meeting with Pennsylvania's governor. It was also the scene of dinners and celebrations. During the British occupation of Philadelphia, the Long Gallery became a hospital for wounded American prisoners of war. Later visitors to this room marveled at Peale's Museum, one of the earliest museums in America.

 
Governor's Council Chamber

Governor's Council Chamber on the second floor of Independence Hall.

NPS photo

Governor's Council Chamber
Pennsylvania's Supreme Executive Council met in this room in the 18th century. Later use of the room includes U.S. District Court, the scene of fugitive slave trials in the 1850's. Displayed on the table today is the surveyor's tool used by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon to determine the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland.
 
Committee of the Assembly chamber.

Committee of the Assembly Chamber on the second floor of Independence Hall.

NPS photo

Committee of the Assembly Chamber
Used in the 18th century for meetings and as a storeroom for military goods, this room housed the U.S. Marshal's Office in the 19th century. Accused fugitives from slavery were held for trial here, right above the room where the Declaration of Independence had been signed.

Did You Know?

Photo of signing table

There are 39 names on the constitution but only 38 signers? John Dickinson of Delaware gave permission to his colleague George Read to sign his name if he wasn't present.