When we were in school, we all learned about the Liberty Bell. But did you know there is more than one? In fact, there are two in Missouri. Almost three. More about that in a minute.
The original Liberty Bell was cast in 1753 and hung in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA. Inscribed on it is the phrase “Pass & Stow” for the bell casters who made it, John Pass and John Stow. But they were actually the re-casters. The Whitechapel Bell Foundry in England, who also cast London’s Big Ben, originally cast the bell. But Whitechapel used a poor mixture of metals making it too brittle, and so it cracked on its first ring. Pass & Stow melted it down and recast it (twice), and put their name on it.
The top rim of the bell has the inscription, “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof” from Leviticus 25:10. While it was cast before we won our independence from England, the bell wasn’t referred to as the “Liberty Bell” until the 1830s, around the time it received its famous crack.
Now for the rest of the story. In 1950, President Harry Truman had 55 replica Liberty Bells made as a fundraiser for U.S. Savings Bonds. These replicas have the same size and tone as the original. Missouri has two of these bells, one on the north capitol grounds, and one in Harry’s hometown of Independence.
And there is a third bell, a 1741 bell nicknamed “the Liberty Bell of the West”, that is almost in Missouri in a town called Kaskaskia. Kaskaskia is part of Illinois on the Mississippi River, and was once Illinois’ capitol city. But after a flood of the Mississippi, the river re-routed to the east side of Kaskaskia, cutting it off from the rest of Illinois. Today, its residents vote in Illinois elections, but receive mail from a Missouri post office. Now there are now only 13 people living in Kaskaskia…and a Liberty Bell.
Whether in Independence Hall, Independence Missouri, or a tiny town like Kaskaskia, the Liberty Bell symbolizes a level of individual freedom that was born and thrives in America. And like the Liberty Bell with its distinctive crack, while we may have some flaws, we Americans have the resilience and endurance to handle any challenge that may come our way.
Until next time, health, happiness and prosperity to you and your family.