Saturday, February 21, 2015

Philadelphia sight seeing

If you read my last blog post, you know that I had planned on doing the usual sites in the area around the Liberty Bell today.  The Concierge warned me that it was going to start snowing about noon.  I didn't get started as early as I might have because it was COLD and also because I couldn't resist the bourbon donuts and coffee in the restaurant this morning.  So I finished my day in the snow.  But I absolutely did everything that I had hoped to do!  And the Philadelphia sites are truly wonderful.

I will edit this better tomorrow.  But the big surprise is that the Liberty Bell site is all about slavery in our nation in the early days.  And the site absolutely gets your attention!  It begins with a view of an archaeology site that shows the foundation of the house in which George Washington lived while he was president.  We forget that George Washington lived in Philadelphia during his two terms as president.  His home was extremely close to the site of the building being used temporarily as the Federal building in Philly....truly it was only steps away.  The guide in the building said that they knew it was a temporary arrangement....and that the Pennsylvania court system moved out to another location to give the federal government a place to meet.  The site that shows the foundation for George Washington's house points out that he brought slaves from his home in Virginia ....and there is another check point as you move toward the Liberty Bell that shows a video of the escape of Hercules from being the chef for George Washington as a slave being FREE!  There is a segment of the video in which they try to get the daughter of Hercules to say that she is sad that her father left her behind....and instead she says:  "I am glad that he is free".  It is very nice.

I wanted to make sure that I wrote down the comment made by the Park Ranger who stands beside the Liberty Bell when one finally gets up to the site where you view the bell.  I don't know if the comment is this man's take or if it is the standard comment that the park ranger is supposed to say.  But he explains that the crack is not because of amateur recasting nor is it because of inferior materials that the crack is in the middle of the word liberty.  It is because Liberty had not been established for EVERYONE....the crack was from the fact that this nation had not yet established liberty for all.  It is a very nice take on the story.  I learned so MUCH from today's agenda.

One more reminder about the bell.  The bell was NOT cast for a celebration about our nation's liberty.  The Liberty Bell was cast in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of William Penn's Charter of Privileges in 1701.

From the National Park Service site

The State House bell, now known as the Liberty Bell, rang in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House. Today, we call that building Independence Hall. Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly Isaac Norris first ordered a bell for the bell tower in 1751 from the Whitechapel Foundry in London. That bell cracked on the first test ring. Local metalworkers John Pass and John Stow melted down that bell and cast a new one right here in Philadelphia. It's this bell that would ring to call lawmakers to their meetings and the townspeople together to hear the reading of the news. It's not until the 1830's that the old State House bell would begin to take on significance as a symbol of liberty.

The website has a podcast that tells about the bell.  Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly Isaac Norris chose the inscription for the State House bell in 1751.  It is thought that it was to commemorate  the 50th anniversary of William Penn's 1701 Charter of Privileges which granted religious liberties and political self-government to the people of Pennsylvania.

Next I viewed Independence Hall.  Wikipedia says:

It is known primarily as the location where both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated and adopted.  However, I also looked at it with "Quaker Eyes" as Mark Dixon suggested:

Independence Hall was not -- despite its current packaging -- built as Independence Hall.  It was built as the Pennsylvania statehouse by a Quaker-dominated state assembly.  This is the assembly from which Friends resigned during the French & Indian War rather than participate in war making.

The below photos show the interior of the building.  One of the very most interesting facts is that the chair shownin the second photo on the podium  is the actual chair in which George Washington sat:

I can not wait to tell you about my wonderful visit to Arch Street Meeting.....In the snow....true Serendipity!  The man who is usually there wasn't and Jim was!  Wonderful!  My last stop of the day was the Arch street Meeting House.  It is still being used today by Quaker members who are as dedicated to the beliefs of the Quaker philosophy today as those in past years.  There was a group in worship while I was there which had met as a committee involved in ecological interests and then moved to the worship area.  The dioramas that could be viewed in the large room that had been the original area for worship were wonderful  And Jim spent much time explaining to me the history of the Meeting house and general information about the Quaker religion.  It was a magical visit.  
 Jim pointed out the sounding board in the meeting room above.  It was a new "invention" at the time this room was built.  The sounding board would make the voices easier to hear in the large room.

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