How and When Did the Liberty Bell Crack?

PHILADELPHIA - Many ask, "How and When did the Liberty Bell crack?" The National Park Service explains that the crack was caused by more than 90 years of use and the bell's metallic composition. But what caused the crack? And how can we know? The researchers at Winterthur Museum believe that the high tin content contributed to the cracking. The cracks were not visible to the naked eye but were noticed by researchers when the bell was hung.

There is no consensus on the exact date the Liberty Bell cracked, but experts believe that the first break occurred around 1752, when the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly commissioned the bell. While it was not hung until March 10, 1753, the bell cracked after nearly 90 years of hard use. Several theories about how the Liberty Bell cracked, but two of them have gained wide acceptance. One theory says that the bell was struck too hard by a clapper, while another contends that the bell was cast too rigid.

The Pennsylvania Assembly ordered the bell in 1751 to commemorate the golden anniversary of Penn's Charter, which granted American citizens exceptional religious freedom and self-government. The inscription on the bell comes from the Bible, Leviticus 25:10, and was likely chosen for this reason. After all, the bell had a special meaning to the founding fathers. It was the most popular symbol of American independence. The bell, formerly found in the Pennsylvania State House, is now located in the Liberty Bell Center at Independence National Historic Park.

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