Return to Home PageThe President's House

In the News index

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Date: September 22, 2002
Byline: Dennis R. Reidenbach, Acting Superintendent Independence National Historical Park

Letter: No ship of slaves

A letter on Sept. 5 by Robert Morris stated that the Liberty Bell came to America in 1752 aboard a ship called the Myrtilla. This belief, while commonly held, is in error.

According to newspaper accounts of port activity, the Myrtilla docked in Philadelphia at the end of September 1752. However, Pennsylvania's Speaker of the Assembly, Isaac Norris (the man who ordered and oversaw the installation of the bell in the State House), wrote on Sept. 1 that the bell had recently arrived. The only ship from England that docked in Philadelphia during the month of August that year was the Hibernia, captained by William Child. The Hibernia was of modest size, transporting dry goods and passengers regularly between England, the colonies and Ireland. No known records identify the Hibernia's owner either before or at the time it transported the bell.

Therefore, association of the Liberty Bell's shipment with the African slave trade is unsubstantiated.


Return to Start Page | In the News index

historic documents, declaration, constitution, more