Saturday, September 1, 2012

Tombs, Rooms and Symbols of Liberty: Visiting Philadelphia

After two hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic, on a Monday morning in the pouring rain, Christopher and I were in Philadelphia. Our mission was of course to visit Independence Hall and all that is associated with the founding of this nation. The tour of Independence Hall is only about fifteen minutes long and is through the two most significant rooms. The tour began in the court room where the first federal and state of Pennsylvania courts were held. The room is largely a reproduction in order to preserve the artifacts. The second room was where the Constitutional Convention was held and where the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution was signed. The room is rather small and you can picture the delegates shouting, writing, pacing, smoking- all passionately concerned about this pivotal moment in American history. Although the tour was short it was a still an incredible feeling being able to stand in the building where so many significant events in history have occurred.  We also seized the opportunity to view the Liberty Bell.  While the many foreign tourists made it rather difficult to see the Bell, being so near a symbol of American freedom was an honor in itself.
Here are some lesser known facts about Independence Hall:
  • The only real artifact in the court room is the original seal of the state of Pennsylvania court. The previous seal was that of King George III and was burned prior to the American Revolution 
  • The only real artifact in the second room is the chair George Washington sat in, presiding over the convention. Benjamin Franklin noted that the rising sun on the chair represented the rising of the nation. 
  • The paint in the halls is the closest we can get to the original color. Over twenty layers of paint were removed 
  • Lawyers all sat at one table, instead of on separate sides. The public was welcomed to come to all trials and stood behind the lawyer’s table.

Christopher and I visited Christ Church Cemetery as well, where Benjamin Franklin and other significant Americans are buried. The cemetery is incredibly old, with crumbling but beautiful tombstones. I especially loved the epitaph that Franklin wrote himself at the age of twenty-two. It read:
The body of
B. Franklin, Printer
Like the Cover of an Old Book
Its Contents torn Out
And Stript of its Lettering and Gilding
Lies Here, Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be Lost;
For it will (as he Believ'd) Appear once More
In a New and More Elegant Edition
Revised and Corrected
By the Author.
Ben, I just may copy that.

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