Michigan's Liberty Bell
At the Michigan Library and Historical Center
In the concession/lunch room area near the south entrance of the Michigan Library and Historical Center, students and other visitors see Michigan's Liberty Bell. Its dimensions are the same as the original Liberty Bell, and it supposedly has the same tone if it is rung. The bell weighs 2,080 pounds. (The original Liberty Bell is in Liberty Bell Center in Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia. Links below lead to more information.)
In 1950, the United States Department of the Treasury, with funding from private corporations, ordered 53 full-scale reproductions of the Liberty Bell for each of the states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. The bells were cast at the historic Paccard Fonderie de Cloches (Paccard Foundry of Bells) in Annecy-le-Vieux, Haute-Savoie, France.
States were expected to display the bells and ring them on patriotic occasions. The bells promoted the 1950 campaign to sell U.S. Savings Bonds. Because the nation would also begin celebration of the 175th anniversary of American independence in 1950, the slogan of the bond drive was "Save for Your Independence."
Transported to Lansing aboard a truck painted red, white and blue, Michigan's bell was displayed outdoors at the Capitol on May 31 for ceremonies that kicked off the bond campaign. It was then taken on a statewide tour. Upon its return to Lansing, the bell was installed on the glass first floor of the Capitol building. (The photo, above, shows workers moving the bell off the glass floor when it was removed in 1968.)
When people bought savings bonds, they were allowed to ring the bell. Schoolchildren on tours also gave into the temptation to pull on the clapper to make it ring. The sound reverberated throughout the Capitol. Soon, legislators and their staff members complained about the noise interfering with their work. Its clapper was secured to prevent ringing (photo, right).
It was moved again, further down a hall, when the Capitol installed a security post in its place. The Michigan Historical Museum's artist painted a mural of Philadelphia's Independence Hall as a background for the bell in its hallway location. But when Michigan began restoring the Capitol in 1989, the bell needed a new home.
Michigan's Liberty Bell was moved to the Michigan Library and Historical Center. Here, schoolchildren on field trips to the Michigan Historical Museum, Library of Michigan patrons and other building visitors see it every day. Two plaques next to the bell tell more about it. The text of those plaques is reproduced below.(Download plaque text in DOC format.)
- Bell Museum (Paccard Foundry Museum)
- The Liberty Bell (ushistory.org)
- The Liberty Bell, Independence National Historical Park (National Park Service)
- The Liberty Bell: From Obscurity to Icon (Teaching with Historic Places Lesson Plan, National Park Service)
- The Liberty Bell: Protecting an American Icon (National Science Foundation, Office of Legislative and Public Affairs)
- Symbols of U.S. Government: The Liberty Bell (Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids, U. S. Government Printing Office)
- John W. Snyder, Secretary of the Treasury, 1946 - 1953
- *Source of Father Knows Best dialogue: The Old Time Radio Script Collection, Generic Radio Workshop