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The Liberty Bell

( Originally Published 1927 )



BY J. T. HEADLEY

ON July fourth, 1776, the representatives of the American people gathered at the State House in Philadelphia to take final action upon the Declaration of Independence, which had been under discussion for three days.

It was soon known throughout the city ; and in the morning, before Congress assembled, the streets were filled with excited men, some gathered in groups engaged in eager discussion, and others moving toward the State House. All business was forgotten in the momentous crisis which the country had now reached. No sooner had the members taken their seats than the multitude gathered in a dense mass around the en-trance. The bell-man mounted to the belfry, to be ready to proclaim the joyful tidings of freedom as soon as the final vote was passed. A bright-eyed boy was stationed below to give the signal.

Around the bell, brought from England, had been cast, more than twenty years before, the prophetic motto: " Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof." Although its loud clang had often sounded over the city, the proclamation engraved on its iron lip had never yet been spoken aloud.

It was expected that the final vote would be taken without delay; but hour after hour wore on, and no report came from the mysterious hall where the fate of a continent was in suspense. The multitude grew impatient. The old man leaned over the railing, straining his eyes downward, till his heart misgave him, and hope yielded to fear. But at length, about two o'clock the door of the hall opened, and a voice exclaimed, " It has passed!"

The word leaped like lightning from lip to lip, followed by huzzas that shook the building. The boy-sentinel turned to the belfry, clapped his hands, and shouted, " Ring ! ring!" The desponding bell-man, electrified into life by the joyful news, seized the iron tongue and hurled it backward and forward with a clang that startled every heart in Philadelphia like a bugle blast.

" Clang ! Clang ! the bell of Liberty resounded on, higher and clearer and more joyous, blending in its deep and thrilling vibration, and proclaiming in loud and long accents over all the land the motto that encircled it.



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