The Bicentennial Bell

Bicentennial Bell - Gift From The People Of Britain

"…on the side of the Bicentennial Bell are the words "Let Freedom Ring‟. It is a message in which both our people can join and which I hope will be heard around the world for centuries to come."

--Queen Elizabeth II at the presentation of the Bicentennial Bell July 6, 1976

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visit the Liberty Bell
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip viewing the Liberty Bell on July 6, 1976. The Liberty Bell contains metal from a bell ordered from the Whitechapel Foundry in 1751.

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of American independence, the British people presented the people of the United States with the Bicentennial Bell. Cast at the Whitechapel Foundry in London, this gift celebrates the common cause of freedom uniting the two nations. Queen Elizabeth II spoke at the dedication ceremony in Independence National Historical Park's Visitor Center on July 6, 1976. She expressed gratitude to America's Founding Fathers for teaching the British "to respect the right of others to govern themselves in their own way." Acknowledging a valuable lesson, she emphasized the shared heritage of the principles of the Magna Carta guiding our nations.

bell at foundry
The first official peal of the Bicentennial Bell at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

Bicentennial Bell Facts
Weight: 12,446 lbs.
Composition: Copper and tin alloy
Height: 5 feet, 6 inches
Note: G below middle C
Inscription: For the People of the United States of America from the People of Britain 4 July 1976 LET FREEDOM RING

The bell was located at the top of the tower, formerly the Independence Living History Center. The building is now owned by the American Revolutionary Center. The bell will eventually put on display in the national park.The Bicentennial Bell rang out at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. for many years.

Here on July 6, 1976, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain Presented The Bicentennial Bell to the People of the United States, in these Words:

I speak to you as the direct descendant of King George III. He was the last Crowned Sovereign to rule in this country, and it is therefore with a particular personal interest that I view those events which took place 200 years ago.

It seems to me that Independence Day, the Fourth of July, should be celebrated as much in Britain as in America. Not in rejoicing at the separation of the American colonies from the British Crown but in sincere gratitude to the Founding Fathers of this great Republic for having taught Britain a very valuable lesson.

We lost the American colonies because we lacked that statesmanship "to know the right time, and the manner of yielding, what is impossible to keep."

But the lesson was learnt. In the next century and a half we kept more closely to the principles of Magna Carta which have been the common heritage of both our countries.

We learnt to respect the right of others to govern themselves in their own ways. This was the outcome of experience learned the hard way in 1776. Without that great act in the cause of liberty performed in Independence Hall two hundred years ago, we could never have transformed an Empire into a Commonwealth!

Ultimately peace brought a renewal of friendship which has continued and grown over the years and has played a vital part in world affairs. Together we have fought in two world wars in the defence of our common heritage of freedom. Together we have striven to keep the peace so dearly won. Together, as friends and allies, we can face the uncertainties of the future, and this is something for which we in Britain can also celebrate the Fourth of July.

This morning I saw the famous Liberty Bell. It came here over 200 years ago when Philadelphia, after London, was the largest English speaking City in the world. I was cast to commemorate the Pennsylvania Charter of Privileges, but is better known for its association with the Declaration of Independence.

Today, to mark the 200th anniversary of that declaration, it gives me the greatest pleasure, on behalf of the British people, to present a new bell to the people of the United States of America. It comes from the same foundry as the Liberty Bell, but written on the side of this Bicentennial Bell are the words "Let Freedom Ring".

It is a message in which both our people can join and which I hope will be heard around the world for centuries to come.


Last updated: February 26, 2015

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