My Colonial States Trip~Part 14

18 Feb

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Bill Lites


The “Declaration Chamber” in Independence Hall has been beautifully restored and arranged to represent the way it looked during the years between 1775 and 1783 when the Second Continental Congress used this chamber to meet, debate and eventually adopt our Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution.


The “Supreme Court Chamber” has also been beautifully restored with ochre-painted walls and the coat of arms for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania above the bench. This is the room where the Philadelphia Supreme Court conducted trials, and the state legislature conducted business in the early years of our nation. There are records that indicate the U.S. Supreme Court held proceedings in this chamber in 1791 and again in 1796. The judge’s bench and jury’s box overlooked the accused, who stood in the prisoner’s dock for the duration of his trial, giving rise to the expression “Stand Trial.”


Next I went to view the Liberty Bell and discovered that the bell was originally cast in London, England in 1752. The bell was installed in the State House and intended to be used to summon lawmakers to legislative sessions and to alert citizens of public meetings and proclamations, but it cracked the first time it was rung after arriving in Philadelphia. There isn’t actually any evidence that the bell was rung on July 4, 1776 to announce the signing of the Declaration of Independence. A story (fable) was written in 1847 about an elderly bell ringer who claimed he ran the bell on that date. People liked that story so much that it was adopted as fact, and has been perpetuated down through the years. It wasn’t until the 1830s that the bell was dubbed, by several abolitionist societies, as the “Liberty Bell” and used as a symbol of freedom by them during the 1830s and 1940s.


Then I boarded a city tour bus for a 90-minute guided tour of the city of Philadelphia with all its many historical places. Most people today don’t realize that Philadelphia was the first capital of the United States, or how many important events, which helped shape our country, took place in this city. I was amazed at how many famous people in our country’s early history lived and worked in this city, helping form the foundation of our nation as we now know it.


I saw the Betsy Ross house where it’s said that Betsy fashioned and made the first American flag in 1776, and later presented it to General George Washington (who by then had been appointed Commander-in-chief of the Continental Army).


I saw Ben Franklin’s print shop, where he became famous for printing The Pennsylvania Gazette; the President’s House site where George Washington
and John Adams created the Office of the President of the United States; the Christ Church Cemetery where Ben Franklin is buried, along with many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and other famous leaders. I found it interesting as a side note, that it is said, Christ Church in Philadelphia is also where Colonial America made its initial break with the Church of England.


—–To Be Continued—–

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