The Real Reason The Liberty Bell Is Cracked

What does America's idea of freedom sound like? Does it whisper like wind washing over amber waves of grain? Is it Whitney Houston swelling hearts and endearing ears with her gripping rendition of the national anthem? Or maybe it's the rapturous chewing of a slice of apple pie with a side of fried bald eagle, which is probably illegal. But maybe lawlessness is the sweetest freedom of all. No, it seems that American freedom rings in E-flat. Or at least it used to.

Per the National Park Service, in 1999, Penn State University graduate students simulated the original sound of Philadelphia's Liberty Bell. And it sounds, well, bell-like. Located in Independence Hall, it was ordered from the White Chapel Foundry Foundry in London in 1751 and has an inscription that reads: "Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof." That's easily the second most inspiring quote associated with Philadelphia, the first bieng Rocky Balboa shouting, "Yo, Adrian."

Nowadays the Liberty Bell sounds like silence, and not the Simon and Garfunkel kind of silence you can sing along to. That's because America's symbol of liberty has a massive crack in it.

Liberty falls silent

So what does it mean that America's symbol of liberty has a crack in it? Was that the death knell of freedom? Probably not, but the timing of the fissure was nonetheless ironic. The National Park Service explains that abolitionists first dubbed the bell the Liberty Bell in 1835 and noted that the bell's inscription,"Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof," was insconsistent with the institution of slavery. Before that the bell wasn't an iconic symbol of freedom but a tool for calling lawmakers to come to meetings and townspeople for gathering to read the news.

It wasn't until sometime in the 1840s, when abolitionists were using the bell to implore America to live up to its own ideas the Liberty Bell developed a crack. The precise moment it happened is lost to history, but an attempt to repair the bell made it worse. In 1846, workers tried to restore the Liberty Bell to its former glory to ring it in celebration of George Washington's birthday. Instead, they widened the crack.