Monday, July 6, 2009

The Liberty Bell

On July 8, 17776, a pealing bell in the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House announced the first public reading of the declaration of Independence. Today, that iron bell is known as the Liberty Bell, and it is a treasured symbol of the nation’s devotion to freedom.

The Liberty Bell was made in England and shipped to Philadelphia in 1752. Inscribed on the bell were these words: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” But the first time the bell was tested, it cracked. It was recast and then hung in the State House, which was renamed Independence Hall after the Declaration of Independence was signed there. During the Revolution, the bell was hidden under the floor of a church in Allentown, Pennsylvania to keep it safe. After the war, it was rehung in Independence Hall and rung on important occasisions.

In 1835 while toiling for the funeral of Chief Justice John Marshall, the bell cracked a second time. It was repaired once more, but in 1846, it cracked again as it rang in honor of George Washington’s birthday. This time the bell could not be repaired.

Today the Liberty Bell is enshrined in a special pavilion in Independence National Historic Park in Philadelphia, just across from its original home.

The liberty bell weighs more than 2,080 pounds and has a circumference of 12 feet at its widest point. It is about three feet high.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Clara Barton

She was called the “angel of the battlefield” by those who saw her caring for wounded and dying soldiers during the Civil War. Her role there made her a national heroine. A strong-minded woman, Clara barton then devoted the rest of her life to helping others.
When the Civil war began in 1861, Barton was working as the first female clerk in the Patent Office in Washington D.C. But reports of suffering soldiers roused her to action. Besides nursing the wounded, she carried supplies and medicines to the battlefield.

Clara barton created a bureau to search for missing Civil War soldiers and mark the graves of the dead.

Barton’s war efforts left her exhausted and ill. In 1869, she went to Switzerland to recover. There, barton learned about the International red Cross, an organization devoted to the relief of suffering resulting from war. In 1870-1871, she took part in Red Cross activities during the Franco-Prussia war. Two years later, Barton returned home and set about forming an American red Cross. In 1881, she achieved her goal and served as the organization’s first president for 22 years. Before retiring in 1904, Barton expanded the efforts of the Red Cross to include aid to victims of peacetime disasters, such as floods and hurricanes.