Sunday, April 28, 2024

The Liberty Bell Comes to the Rescue Part 1 – By Donna Schlachter

Photo by Brett Sayles:

When I think of the Liberty Bell, I recall images of that cracked ringer, and I wonder how it could possibly come to the rescue. After all, this lump of iron from over two hundred years in the past—not to mention that jagged slash that makes it unusable—just reduces any credibility this historical artifact might otherwise claim.


In April 1917, just weeks after joining World War 1, the United States was in deep trouble—financial trouble. In order to finance this country’s war efforts. The Treasury Department undertook the largest war-bond drive ever, $2 billion (more than $40 billion in today’s dollars)—in only six weeks.

They engaged the promotional efforts of movie stars, billboards, streetcar ads, and fliers dropped from planes. But sales were poor. So they huddled behind closed doors, and came up with a firecracker of an idea.

They would ring the Liberty Bell.

No, you might say. Unheard of. What if—what if it broke clean in half?

Treasury Secretary William McAdoo didn’t care.

And to follow this grand scheme, every bell in the nation would peal out the good news once the peals of Old Liberty had faded.


From Smithsonian magazine, April 2017

So, on the bond campaign’s final day, June 14, 1917, Philadelphia Mayor Thomas Smith and his entourage approached Independence Hall and climbed the steps to where the bell hung. Thousands watched. You could hear a penny drop. Microphones and a Victrola trumpet waited for the sound that would revitalize the nation.

Using a small gold hammer, he struck the bell once. It remained intact. A second time. A third, and on through to thirteen times, once for each original colony. Then every church, school, fire station, and building that had a bell tower rang its bell, echoing over the land the commitment of the citizens to fund and win this war, as well as to revere the past, present, and future in this single act.

How ironic that only a hundred years before, the bell hung in Independence Hall, a building slated for demolition. A local newspaper editor went on a campaign in 1818 to save the building where the Declaration of Independence had been signed.

A new bell replaced the original, which was still rung for special occasions, such as the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration; in memory of founders’ birthdays; and over the Transcontinental phone line in 1915.

Needless to say, with this publicity, bond sales soared, easily exceeding the goal.
Hint about the Liberty Bell's previous journey -- two of the many folks who came to view the bell -- from Moline. Smithsonian magazine April 2017

Next time, later in the year, I'll share about the amazing road trip the Bell took two years before the events in this blog post.

About Donna:

A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 60 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and is an avid oil painter. She is taking all the information she’s learned along the way about the writing and publishing process, and is coaching committed career writers. Learn more at Check out her coaching group on FB: Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive 2 free ebooks simply for signing up for our free newsletter!

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  1. Thank you for posting today. That was surely a risk. Thankfully it turned out well.

  2. I vaguely recall this. Thanks for sharing.