How Did the Liberty Bell Crack in July of 1835?


Quick Answer

There is no agreed upon origin or date for the crack in the Liberty Bell. There are two largely apocryphal stories detailing how the bell came to be marred. The first theory sets the date of the damage in 1824 as the bell was used to commemorate the visit of Marquis De Lafayette. Some claim it cracked as it was wrung following the funeral of Chief Justice John Marshall, in 1835. Neither story cannot be independently verified, and remains conjecture.

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Full Answer

One certainty does exist, the crack existed by 1846. News reports and governmental records note that the mayor of Philadelphia wished for bell to toll in honor of George Washington's birthday. One attempt to repair the fissure actually involved opening up further to try and prevent a complete break. This effort failed as the bell wrung only a single time before cracking again, leading to its retirement in the same year.

The title "Liberty Bell" is not its original name. Previously, it had been known as the "State Tower Bell." The name "Liberty," inspired by its inscription, was adopted by abolitionists in 1837. The bell became a symbol of the fight against slavery, and was featured on abolitionist pamphlets and newspapers. In 1915, women's suffrage proponents commissioned a duplicate bell they titled "Justice." They took it across the country, rallying support for their cause.

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