Sons of the American Revolution holds September meeting

Submitted Photo Pictured from left: Doug Arters, Risa Sumner and Jim White.

CASSADAGA — Recently, Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) members and guests heard a talk by member Frank Stow about the iconic Liberty Bell, housed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, outside of Independence Hall.

Stow, while researching his project about the Liberty Bell, discovered that Harriet Beecher Stowe and Aaron Burr are both found in his family tree. Harriett Beecher Stowe authored “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Aaron Burr (1756 to 1836), vice president under Thomas Jefferson, killed Alexander Hamilton (1757 to 1804) in a duel in New Jersey. Both founders were veterans of the Revolutionary War.

The Liberty Bell was ordered in 1751 to commemorate William Penn’s 1701 Charter of Privileges, and was built in 1752 in England. It was manufactured at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry (actually called Lester and Pack at that time) near London, England, arriving in Philadelphia in August 1752. Emblazoned on the bell are the immortal words from Leviticus 25:10 – “Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” The bell weighed 2,080 pounds.

It was to be hung in the state house, now called Independence Hall, as ordered by Isaac Norris, speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly at the time.

In 1753, the bell cracked on its first test ring, so was re-cast by John Pass and John Stowe at Stowe’s foundry. Thereafter, it made a “terrible sound” when struck, so they re-cast it again in June 1753 with better results.

In 1760, the bell was rung to mark the accession of King George III to the throne in England. It was also used by a local church to summon people to church meetings.

On July 8, 1776, the bell was rung when the Declaration of Independence was publicly read in Philadelphia by Colonel John Nixon, probably of the Pennsylvania Militia. The bell was a symbol of liberty.

After Washington’s defeat Sept. 11, 1777 Brandywine, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia was defenseless, so the Liberty Bell was taken to Northampton Town (now Allentown) to Zion German Reformed Church where it was hidden under the floor boards. In June 1778, it was returned to Philadelphia; since the steeple in the State House was in poor condition, it was kept in storage until 1785 until the steeple reconstruction was completed

In 1824, the bell may have cracked again when Lafayette came to America to visit – which included his visit to Fredonia, New York. A plaque on the Russo Building, placed by the Prescott DAR Chapter, still commemorates his visit. A number of years ago, a painting depicting his visit covered the north inner wall of a restaurant along Route 60, Fredonia.

The most common story is that the bell cracked in 1835 upon ringing for the passing of Chief Justice John Marshall.

The Pass and Stowe Bell was first termed “Liberty Bell” in the New York Anti-Slavery Society Journal antislavery record in 1835. Around that time, many anti-slavery groups featured the Liberty Bell and its inscription.

In 1853, Franklin Pierce spoke of the Liberty Bell and its symbol of the American Revolution and American liberty.

Between 1885 to 1915, the Liberty Bell made seven trips in a special train car to various expositions and celebrations, with many stops along the way – to New Orleans for the World Cotton Expo, and the Chicago’s World Columbian Expo. While there, the first performance of the “Liberty Bell March” by the famed composer, John Philip Sousa (1854 to 1932), leader of the US Marine Band, was made. In 1915, it was taken to the Panama-Pacific Expo at San Francisco.

Thousands of people visited the bell, ultimately raising some 17 billion dollars in war bonds to fund WWI.

In 1940, Philadelphians who served in WWII took their oaths in front of the Liberty Bell. In 1973, the Liberty Bell was moved across the street from Independence Hall to the glass and steel Liberty Bell Pavilion which remained its home until 2003. Later, a new facility was constructed and opened in 2003 with a GPS address of 526 Market St.

Today, the Liberty Bell weighs 2,080 pounds, is 70 percent copper, 25 percent tin, and the rest is lead, zinc, arsenic, gold and silver. It hangs from the original yoke of an American Elm.

In other business, Chapter President Steve Boothe noted that he had given some five talks at several venues throughout the county during the summer months, including a talk about General Lafayette for the Prescott DAR Chapter at Dunkirk. Boothe reported that our chapter once again provided support to the JROTC group at the Dunkirk High School.

John Sipos, historian, gave a report on the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag. The phrase “one nation under God,” he said, was inspired by discussion at an SAR meeting, and was added to the pledge under the administration of President Eisenhower on June 14, 1954.

It was reported that long-time member Don Ahlstrom, former mayor of Jamestown and former SAR chapter president, was moving to Georgia.

The SAR is a fraternal organization whose members trace back to an ancestor who served during the Revolutionary War, in the Congress, or in some other capacity for the cause of liberty. More information about the Chautauqua County Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution may be found at sarchautauqua.org.

A fellowship meeting was held on Sept. 1 at noon, at the Cassadaga Country Club, Frisbee Road, Cassadaga. Some members marched in the Cassadaga parade on the same Saturday. Several members of the SAR color guard planned to march in the Sept. 8, 10 a.m., Sinclairville parade.


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