And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.
– Leviticus 25:10
Not far from here where we gather today is a symbol of freedom familiar to all Americans — the Liberty Bell. When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public, the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, and a witness said: "It rang as if it meant something."
– George W. Bush, December 12, 2005. The reference is to The Old Bell of Independence, a work of fiction.
Yes there's a lady that stands in a harbor for what we believe. And there's a bell that still echoes the price that it cost to be free.
– Aaron Tippen, "Where The Stars And Stripes And Eagles Fly"
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
The original Liberty Bell announced the creation of democracy; the Women's Liberty Bell will announce the completion of democracy.
– Katherine Ruschenberger, suffragist, New York Times, March 31, 1915.
The Liberty Bell is "a very significant symbol for the entire democratic world."
– Nelson Mandela, Philadelphia Inquirer, July 4, 1993.
If I had a bell
I'd ring it in the morning
I'd ring it in the evening ... all over this land,
I'd ring out danger
I'd ring out a warning
I'd ring out love between all of my brothers and my sisters
All over this land.
It's a bell of freedom
– Lee Hays and Pete Seeger, "If I Had a Hammer"
Let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring. And when this happens, when we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
– Martin Luther King Jr., excerpt from his "I Have A Dream" speech
While the Bell, with joyous note
Clanging from its brazen throat,
Rings the tidings, all-exultant — peals the news to shore and sea;
"Man is man — a slave no longer,
Truth and Right than Might are stronger.
Praise to God! We're free; we're free!"
– Elbridge S. Brooks, from "Liberty Bell," section I. Philadelphia, 1776, written in 1885 for St. Nicholas Magazine
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.
– Text of sonnet "The Liberty Bell" by R.R.R. Moore, published by the Friends of Freedom, 1844
Ring out the peals of the Liberty Bell!
Let the tones be loud and clear,
Till, borne on the floating breeze's swell,
The weary slave shall hear,
And the booming sound of its ringing knell
Shall reach the oppressor's ear —
And drown the shout of the auctioneer
Ring out the peals of the Liberty Bell!
Ay, ring the call for the jubilee
Afar over land and sea,
Till woman's voice shall the chorus swell,
And childhood shall clap its hands in glee,
And the echoing chimes come back and tell
That every slave is free.
– Aurelia F. Raymond, "The Liberty Bell," 1858
The Bell! the bell! the glorious bell
Whose merry chimes delight the ear!
An ever-cheering tale they tell,
That all true men exult to hear.
The glorious bell of Liberty!
Another peal comes booming o'er
The wide Atlantic, charged with glee
And tidings glad to each heart's core.
The soul-awakening sounds of old!
They rouse up all life's hope anew;
I know them well — I heard them tolled,
In lands where Freedom's friends are few.
I gave that bell a pull of yore,
And though foresooth a feeble one,
And I may never ring it more,
My fingers stir as of each tone.
– R.R Marden, "The Liberty Bell," in an Anti-Slavery Booklet of 1847
Hushed the people's swelling murmur,
Whilst the boy cries joyously;
"Ring!" he's shouting, "ring, grandfather,
Ring! Oh, ring for Liberty!"
Quickly at the given signal
The old bellman lifts his hand.
– G.S. Hillard, "Franklin Fifth Reader"
George Lippard's "Fourth of July," generally recognized as the origin of the fiction of the ringing of the Bell on July 4, 1776.
A moral earthquake had awakened the slumber of ages. The spirit-stirring notes that pealed out from Independence Hall, proclaiming "LIBERTY THROUGHOUT THE LAND TO ALL THE INHABITANTS THEREOF," and causing the most humble to lift up his head with higher hopes and nobler aspirations, were yet echoing through every nook and corner of the land. The revolutionary struggle, in which was involved the great principles of human rights, was still fresh in the minds of all from the least unto the greatest.
– William Douglass, 1862