Quotes of Famous Americans:
"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal."
"I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me
liberty or give me death."
The Declaration of Independence
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776
The Declaration of Independence is the nation's most cherished symbol of liberty and Thomas Jefferson's most enduring monument. Jefferson wrote it between June 11 and June 28, 1776. Jefferson expressed the convictions
in the minds and hearts of the American people. The political philosophy of which he wrote was not new; its ideals of individual liberty had already been expressed by John Locke and the Continental philosophers. Jefferson summarized this philosophy in "self-evident truths" and set forth a list of grievances against the King in order to justify before the world the breaking of ties between the colonies and the mother country.
The Declaration of Independence - of the 13 United States of America,
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
The Pledge of Allegiance
I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation under God,
indivisible, with liberty and
justice for all.
The Star Spangled Banner
The Star-spangled banner, the National Anthem of the United States of
America is a poem inspired by the Battle of Baltimore, fought on September 12-14, 1814 during the War of 1812.
During the British campaign against Washington, D.C., an elderly and respected physician, Dr. William Beanes was arrested for unfriendly acts toward the British soldiers. Francis Scott Key, a prominent lawyer and friend of Dr. Beanes was sent by President James Madison to obtain his release. Following negotiations, the British agreed to release Beanes. However, since the British were going to attack Baltimore, Maryland next, they would allow no one to go ashore.
The British landed soldiers on September 12 and engaged in a brisk land battle, however, they were not able to capture Baltimore. As part of a two pronged attack, the British now sent their naval fleet to attack and destroy the city. The main defense of Baltimore harbor was Fort McHenry. For 25 hours the British fleet fired rockets and bombs at the fort. The fort's defender withstood the bombardment and did not surrender. The British realized they could not take Baltimore without heavy casualties. Since they were not willing to pay this price, they departed from Baltimore.
During the bombardment, Key was down river watching and was inspired to write a poem that tells the story of the battle. When he reached Baltimore he finished the poem. Key wrote the poem to match the meter to be sung to an old English tune To Anacreon in Heaven.
The song slowly grew in popularity and was well known and used by both sides during the Civil war. In later years it was very popular with the military and it was used as an "unofficial" national anthem. During World War I, the song became so widely accepted that a drive resulted in the Congress making it the National Anthem in 1931.
The National Museum of American History, which is part of the Smithsonian Institution, displays in its main lobby the Star-Spangled Banner which is 30 feet wide and 42 long. Because of its deteriorated condition, most Americans have long assumed that this flag flew during the battle. However, historians using both British and American sources have found that during the battle there was a late summer storm which would have prevented the 1260 square foot woolen flag from being flown. A 17 by 25 storm flag would
have been the size of the actual flag flying during the battle. The large flag, however, was raised the following morning as the British were departing from Baltimore. This would have been the flag Key would have seen when entered Baltimore.
The original manuscript is now on display at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. Fort McHenry still stands and it is part of the National Park Service. The fort is the only site to have both a national monument and historic shrine designation.
The Defense of Fort McHenry
by Francis Scott Key
20 September 1814
Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wiped out their foul footstep's pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner forever shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
The Pennsylvania Assembly ordered the Bell in 1751 to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of William Penn's 1701 Charter of Privileges, Pennsylvania's original Constitution. Penn believed in religious freedom and had a liberal stance on Native American rights and inclusion in citizens in enacting laws. As a result it is fitting that the quotation on the bell reads “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof," from Leviticus 25:10.
The Liberty Bell was originally cast in 1752 at the Whitechapel Foundry and recast twice in 1753 at Pass & Stow Philadelphia.
While the bell had importance to Pennsylvania, it was not named before the 13 American Colonies declared Independence, in fact the Liberty Bell did not receive it’s moniker until 1837. However the Liberty bell may have played an importance roll in American history as it chimed on July 8, 1776 to summon the citizens of Philadelphia to hear the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence by Colonel John Nixon.
Was the Bell Rung in 1776?
The truth may never be know, however based on records is appears that odds are that because of it was not. Records show the steeple was in bad shape and it may have been difficult to ring the bell. However a story written in 1847 conjured up the idea of the bell ringing as soon as it was official that the Declaration of Independence had been signed. The has become the popular known history although it may not be correct.
In 1837, abolitionists adopted the Bell as a symbol and aptly referred to it as the Liberty Bell in reference to the inscription on the bell. The New York Anti-Slavery Society publication Liberty used the bell as an icon for the movement and so began it being called the Liberty Bell. Prior to this use, it had simply been know as the State House Bell.
The Liberty Bell is made of 70% copper, 25% tin and small amounts of lead, zinc, arsenic, gold and silver.
The Liberty Bell Crack is approximately 1/2 inch wide and 24.5 inches long and has suffered other hairline cracks that makes the bell unusable.
The Liberty Bell has spent most of it’s time in Philadelphia however it has been moved at various times.
In October 1777, the Liberty bell and all Philadelphia bells were removed when the British occupied Philadelphia. This ensured that the british would not melt down the bell to make a canon or other weapons.
The Liberty Bell was moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania and hidden in the floorboards of the Zion Reformed Church.
After the Civil War the Liberty Bell was used to help heal the country and it made trips around the country in the 1880’s.
The Liberty Bell journeyed to the west coast in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco.
Today the Liberty Bell rests at the Liberty Bell Center in Philadelphia.