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Independence Hall Timeline

1729 February. A petition is presented in the General Assembly to erect a State House in the middle of High Street as part of an expansion of the market stalls.

1731 Design by Andrew Hamilton.

1732 Construction begins on main building. Completed 1735.

1735 Hall houses Pennsylvania General Assembly, Supreme Executive Council {check name}, and Supreme Court of the Province.

1736 Benjamin Franklin becomes Clerk of the General Assembly.

1739 Library Company of Philadelphia occupies west wing 1739-72.

1747 Council Chamber is completed on the second floor of the State House.

August 18. The Quaker-dominated Assembly refuses to authorize public money to defend against French and Spanish privateers in the Delaware Bay.

November 14. Benjamin Franklin publishes the pamphlet PLAIN TRUTH, which calls for volunteers to fight the privateers, and using private money to pay for arms and ships.

1748 Main building completed.

1750 Tower begun.

1751 July 1. Meeting at the State House to organize a public hospital. The Pennsylvania Hospital becomes the first hospital founded in America.

Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Quakers) held at Hall.

1752 Clock on west end built by Thomas Stretch.

August: Liberty Bell arrives from England.

Phillip Syng, Jr. creates silver inkstand, later used in signing of Declaration and Constitution.

1753 Wooden steeple completed.

March: Liberty Bell recast by Pass & Stow; installed in steeple.

1754 French & Indian War begins.

1755 July-November. More than 400 white settlers killed by French-backed Shawnee and Delaware Indians, and even more women and children kidnapped. Benjamin Franklin's call to create a state militia is repeatedly opposed by the governor and the Pennsylvania Assembly.

November 25. Some 1800 German settlers travel to Philadelphia and dump the scalped and mutilated corpses of their neighbors at the door of the State House, calling on the Assembly to "behold the Fruits of their Obstinacy." Two days later, a state militia is created for defensive purposes with Franklin at its head.

1762 November. Dr. William Shippen, jr. begins lectures on anatomy at the State House. The lectures evolve into America's first medical school.

1765 October. Thousands gather in the State House Yard to protest the Stamp Act.

1766 Repeal of the Stamp Act celebrated with a grand dinner at the State House.

1768 American Philosophical Society meets in State House.

1769 June. A small observatory built southeast of the State House is used by David Rittenhouse to track the Transit of Venus for the Royal Astronomer at Greenwich, England.

Reverend Joseph Pilmore preaches on the steps of State House; introduction of Methodism to Philadelphia.

1773 Use of the Liberty Bell suspended due to rotting of wooden steeple. Clock-bell installed on roof of State House.

December 24. News of the Boston Tea Party reaches Philadelphia. The following day, the British ship Polly arrives in port with a cargo of tea, but is prevented from unloading. 8000 gather in the State House Yard on the 27th to protest the tax on tea, and march to the waterfront. The Polly returns to England with its load of tea.

1774 June 18. Thousands gather in the State House Yard to choose Pennsylvania delegates to the Continental Congress {check}. It meets at Carpenters' Hall in July.

1775 May. Second Continental Congress

1776 July 2. Separation from Great Britain declared.

July 4. Declaration of Independence approved.

July 8. First reading of Declaration in State House Yard by John Nixon.

Pennsylvania Constitution.

1777 September. State House bell (Liberty Bell) taken to Allentown for safe-keeping.

October. 9-month British occupation of Philadelphia. State House becomes medical ward; second floor jail.

1778 June. Congress returns.

1780 Gradual Abolition Act.

1781 July. Liberty Bell lowered into brick tower; steeple removed.

Articles of Confederation enacted.

1783 June. Mutiny. Congress moves to Princeton.

1784 State House Yard landscaped by Samuel Vaughn.

1785 Assembly Room becomes studio/gallery for Robert Edge Pine.

John Trumbull's painting The Declaration of Independence begun in Paris.

1787 Constitutional Convention.

1788 July 4. Grand Federal Procession in celebration of the ratification of the U.S.Constitution. The ship Union, a float in the parade, displayed outside State House.

1790 Second Pennsylvania Constitution.

December. Federal Government returns to Philadelphia.

1792 November 12. Insurance Company of North America established by businessmen at a meeting in the Assembly Room.

1799 Pennsylvania state government moves to Lancaster.

Masonic Lodges begin meeting on second floor

December 26. National Funeral Procession for George Washington.

1800 Federal Government moves to District of Columbia.

1802 Assembly Room and second story renovated.

Peale's Philadelphia Museum occupies second story 1802-28.

1813-15 Wings and arcades removed, replaced with office wings; Robert Mills, architect.

1816 State House almost demolished in real estate scheme to develop State House Yard.

1818 City of Philadelphia buys State House from State for $70,000.

Assembly Room remodeled.

Insurance survey.

1824 March. Arsonist sets fire in Supreme Court Chamber; quickly extinguished.

Summer. "Hall of Independence" name first used for Assembly Room.

September 28. Lafayette's visit. "Birthplace of Independence."

State House Yard renamed Independence Square.

1828 Steeple reconstructed; William Strickland, architect. Clock on west end of Independence Hall removed. Second story renovated for federal courts; John Haviland, architect. Occupied, 1828-54.

December 31. New clock-bell by J. Wilbank installed in steeple; Wilbank granted salvage rights to Liberty Bell, but leaves it hanging in brick tower.

1831 Assembly Room "restored;" John Haviland, architect.

1830s Basement used as municipal dog pound (Mires, 101).

1835 Philadelphia General Strike. General Trades Union demonstrates in Independence Square demanding workday be reduced to 10 hours.

1839 Liberty Bell, a Boston abolitionist periodical, begins publishing. Name is not generally associated with State House bell until 1850s.

1844 August. Frederick Douglass speaks at an anti-slavery rally in Independence Square.

1847 George Lippard's short story "The Fourth of July, 1776."

1848 The body of John Quincy Adams lies in state in Assembly Room; first former president accorded this honor.

1850 Fugitive Slave Law enacted. Hearings held in federal courtroom on second floor.

1852 Liberty Bell removed from brick tower; put on display in Assembly Room.

1854 Second story renovated for Philadelphia City Council chambers. Occupied, 1854-95.

Assembly Room renovated as shrine to Founders.

1857 November. 10,000 unemployed laborers demonstrate in Independence Square for jobs.

1861 February 22. President-elect Abraham Lincoln visits Independence Hall on his way to Washington, D.C.

1861-65 Over the course of the Civil War, the bodies of seven Union officers lie in state in the Assembly Room.

1865 April 22-24. The body of Abraham Lincoln lies in state in the Assembly Room en route to burial in Springfield, Illinois.

1870 Proposal to build new Philadelphia City Hall on Independence Square defeated in October voter referendum: Penn Square 51,625; Independence Square 32,825

1876 National Museum opened in Assembly Room {check}.

"Independence Hall" name becomes generally associated with entire building.

Liberty Bell displayed in stairwell of tower hanging from a chain.

Centennial Bell installed in wooden steeple.

July 4. Suffragist Susan B. Anthony interrupts Centennial ceremonies to present Vice President Thomas W. Ferry with the Declaration of the Rights of Women.

1879 Liberty Bell moved to Supreme Court Chamber.

1855 Liberty Bell sent by rail to New Orleans for international exposition. 7 trips between 1885 and 1915.

1895 Liberty Bell displayed in glass case in vestibule.

1896 Interior "restored," wings and arcades reconstructed by Philadelphia Chapter, Daughters of American Revolution; T. Mellon Rogers, architect.

1908 October 8. Liberty Bell paraded through the streets of Philadelphia as part of Founders Week.

1915 Liberty Bell makes a 10,000-mile trip across country and to 30 states. Glass case enclosing Liberty Bell removed upon its return.

1917 October 25. Liberty Bell paraded through the streets of Philadelphia to sell Liberty Bonds funding World War I.

1922 Second story restored by City of Philadelphia, supervised by committee of Philadelphia Chapter, A.I.A.

1942 February 1. National Freedom Day, created by Major Richard Robert Wright, a former slave, to commemorate Lincoln's signing of the Thirteenth Amendment. Each year, a wreath is laid at the Liberty Bell.

1948 February {check}. Major fire opposite Hall spurs movement to demolish buildings on the north side of Chestnut Street to protect it.

1951 Restoration of the hall by National Park Service begun; completed 1973.

1962 July 4. President Kennedy's speech

1963-65 Civil rights demonstrations in Independence Square; one draws 5000 people.

1965 March. Two-day sit-in at Liberty Bell in support of the voting-rights march from Selma to Birmingham, Alabama.

June 28. Restored Assembly Room dedicated.

1970 April. Philadelphia's first Earth Day demonstration held on Independence Mall.

1976 January 1. Liberty Bell moved to Liberty Bell Pavilion, 1 block north of Independence Hall.

More than 1.3 million visitors during Bicentennial year.

1979 Independence Hall named World Heritage Site.

1987 September 17. 200th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution.

1988 July 4. First Philadelphia Liberty Medal presented. List of honorees.

2001 September. Public access to Independence Hall reduced due to national security concerns.

2003 July. Opening of National Constitution Center, 3 blocks north of Independence Hall.

October. Opening of Liberty Bell Center. homepage

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The IHA is a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, founded in 1942.
On the Internet since July 4, 1995.