“In Penn’s Fair City, calm and grave, hangs the old Bell which rings no more,
for freedom sleeps on Freedom’s shore.”
–Abolitionist Caroline Weston, The Liberty Bell, published 1849
Once upon a time in a land considered great, the Liberty Bell represented freedom from tyranny and persecution. Throughout this nation’s short history, however, freedom’s toll was often stifled while her people allowed tyranny to reign. In days past, the blood of 4 million slaves once stained the bell, life wrung from African brothers and sisters who were deemed inhuman for their race, and treated worse than cattle. Now it is dripping with the blood of 60 million unborn children, little boys and girls deemed inhuman for their age, and for the comfort of those bigger and stronger.
If our symbol of liberty is to have any meaning, these voiceless children must be heard. Their blood cries to us from the grave, calling for justice & freedom — for the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We the people of Pennsylvania are once again duty-bound to stand against injustice, and let the toll of freedom’s ring reverberate throughout this nation. As it is written,
“Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof”
—Leviticus 25:10, inscribed upon the Liberty Bell
The history surrounding the Liberty Bell and its ideals has always been shrouded in hypocrisy, even from it’s inception. Injustice and oppression was the native language of this nation that claimed to be the birthplace of freedom. As abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass once said, “I ask you…to adopt the principles proclaimed by yourselves, by your revolutionary fathers, and by the old bell in Independence Hall….” – Frederick Douglass, at the Southern Loyalists’ Convention. Philadelphia, 1866.
Originally called “The State House Bell,” it was first referenced by its modern name in the title of abolitionist H. R. H. Moore’s famous poem:
Ring loud that hallowed Bell!
Ring it long, ring it long;
Through the wide world let it tell
That Freedom’s strong:
That the whole world shall be free —
The mighty crowd, the mighty crowd —
That the proud shall bend the knee,
The haughty proud.
Ring, ring the mighty Bell,
In the storm, in the storm!
Brothers! It shall herald well
Fair Freedom’s form.
Ring it Southward, till its voice
For slavery toll, for slavery toll;
And Freedom’s wakening touch rejoice
Both limb and soul.
Ring it o’er the negro’s grave!
Ring it deep, ring it deep;
Its tones are sacred to the slave,
In Freedom’s sleep.
Ring it, till its startling tones
Thrill young and old, young and old;
Till despots tremble on their thrones,
And their blood run cold.
Ring it, till the slave be free,
Wherever chained, wherever chained;
Till Universal Liberty
For aye be gained.
Ring it, till the young arise
To Freedom’s fight, to Freedom’s fight;
Spring gladly toward the kindling skies,
All clothed in light.
Ring it, till the bonds of sect
Be torn away, be torn away;
Till every man, as God’s elect,
Kneel down to pray.
Ring it, till the world have heard,
And felt, at length, and felt, at length;
Till every living soul be stirred,
And clothed with strength.
That “Old Bell” was first given the name “Liberty Bell” by abolitionists — a group of unpopular Christians in America who were fighting to stop one group of human beings from persecuting, raping and and destroying another. Unlike the culture around them, abolitionists of slavery actually believed and acted upon the principles declared by our founding fathers — “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.”
The Liberty Bell thus became an icon in history, an enduring representation of our nation’s hypocrisy in declaring liberty for some and bondage for others. From the abolitionists of slavery, to the suffragists of women’s rights, to the civil rights battle and on through today, liberty has been a fleeting ideal in the birthplace of liberty. We the people of Pennsylvania murder over 30,000 children every year. While tourists flock to visit the Liberty Bell, children are routinely murdered less than one mile away.
The voice of 60 million children cry out to our nation from the grave; their voice as strong as thunder will be felt across the land. Once again, followers of Jesus Christ are rising to stir the conscience of our nation, and we abolitionists will not be silent until the smallest and weakest among us are given the rights and protection that the rest of us enjoy.
The silent bell will ring once more
By Jesus’ power, death will flee
His thunder heard on freedom’s shore
For life, for love, for liberty