In June of this year, The Spirit of Liberty Bell traveled to Washington, D.C., becoming the very first exhibit item to arrive at the Museum of the Bible, which is still under construction. The full-scale replica of the original Liberty Bell was gifted to the museum by Dr. Peter Lillback, founder of the Providence Forum, and received by the museum's curator of Americana, Norm Conrad.
This exact replica of the original Liberty Bell was commissioned in 2003 by the Providence Forum in recognition of the 300th anniversary of William Penn's Charter of Privileges, which guaranteed religious liberty to the inhabitants of Pennsylvania. It was even manufactured at Whitechapel Foundry in London where the original Liberty Bell was produced.
The bell stands six feet tall, weighs 3,200 pounds, and peals in E-flat, the same key as the original. Unlike the original which is located in Philadelphia's Liberty Bell Center, guests of the museum will be able to ring the bell for themselves to hear what it actually sounded like. The yoke of the bell includes wood from the last surviving Liberty Tree, which served as a gathering place for colonists in Annapolis, Maryland, during the American Revolution.
The bell is also engraved exactly as the original: "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof," Leviticus 25:10 (KJV). The verse refers to the Year of Jubilee when slaves were to be set free. It was actually the abolitionist movement that gave the Liberty Bell its name when William Lloyd Garrison, abolitionist and publisher of The Liberator, printed a poem, "The Liberty Bell," in 1844. The poem's first line is "Ring it, til the slave be free."
"The Liberty Bell exemplifies how the Bible is interwoven into American history from the nation's earliest years," says Museum of the Bible President Cary Summers. "By quoting Leviticus, we literally see the Bible's influence forged into one of America's most enduring symbols of the founding ideals of freedom, equality and independence. It's a visually awe inspiring piece to exhibit at the museum and the Bible's impact on our nation will literally be heard every time a guest rings the bell. We are incredibly grateful to Dr. Peter Lillback and the Providence Forum for their very generous gift."
Guests will be invited to ring The Spirit of Liberty Bell when the Museum of the Bible opens its doors to the public in November 2017.
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