Liberty Bell Souvenir
InscriptionQuite a bit can be found on line about the history and housing of the Liberty Bell. For the purposes of this document, a few pertinent facts will be pointed out. The bell was commissioned and cast in London to commemorate the 50th anniversary of William Penn's Charter of Privileges--also known as the Charter of Liberty. The inscription below the shoulder of the bell reads:
Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof Lev. XXV XThe source of the quote is Leviticus 25:10. In this biblical episode, a micromanaging old testament god gives instructions to Moses on a celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the freedom of the Israelites. A little further along Lev. 25:44, god instructs on the rules of the taking and keeping of slaves:
By Order of the ASSEMBLY of the Province of PENSYLVANIA for the State House in Philada
Pass and Stow
Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.But thanks to the jubilee, Lev. 25:54 instructs that any slave unable to buy their freedom should be released. This becomes a resonant context for the bell's inscription; by 1780 Pennsylvania became the fist state to abolish slavery.
But Pennsylvania's abolition was a gradual one. A slave born before the law took effect in March of 1780 would remain a slave for life. Children born after would be freed in their 28th year. In 1840, the last year there was a line documenting slaves in the Pennsylvania census, 64 were still counted. The Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery also provided exceptions for members of congress, foreign dignitaries and slave crew members of ships in port. For these domestic slaves, they could not be retained for longer than six months. This later became an issue for president Washington, when he took up residence in the first presidential house in Philadelphia.
LocationThe site of Washington's presidential residence is just north of the entrance to the Liberty Bell Center. Originally, the Liberty Bell hung in the tower of Independence Hall until its 100th anniversary, when it was moved to the ground floor. Due to the deluge of tourists visiting both the hall and the bell, it was eventually moved to its current location designed by Bohlin, Cywinski, and Jackson.
The pavilion runs along the west side of Independence Mall; the grassy area to the north is the general area of the first presidential house. The covered entrance area overlaps the footprint of the rear of the presidential house. The main part of the building houses an interpretive center, with the south end encased in glass and angled slightly, so that the view of the bell lines up with the Independence Hall bell tower.
TitleThe title of this series--the Love Brother Document--alludes to one of Philadelphia's nicknames, the city of brotherly love (also known as the cradle of liberty). Love Brother is a transliteration of the Greek philos, meaning love and adelphos, meaning brother. The title also refers to an idea for a art piece, Love Brother Monument Proposal which through this and subsequent postings, is being transformed into something more dialogical. So feel free to leave your comments.