Colonial Quills Celebrates Our Country's Independence! HUZZAH!!


Saturday, July 8, 2017

A History Lover Tours Philadelphia


Carla Gade here to share about my recent sojourn over the cobblestone streets of historic Philadelphia. I just returned last week and have been sorting through hundreds of pictures so its hard to know where to begin...or end... So here are a few highlights of my whirlwind trip of two days following a family wedding.

In honor of our recent celebration of our country's freedom, I'll keep with the theme of Independence and briefly share some of the meaningful sights I visited. They may may spark fuller blog poss from me in the future, you just know I soaked up every detail!

I must say, that since my trip to Colonial Williamsburg several years ago, I have not had such a fulfilling historical trip.The only thing lacking was all the wonderful historical re-enactors that I enjoy so much in the living history museums, however I did get to meet one particular lady.

Her name was Betsy Ross.


Mistress Ross, was an upholster by trade and a flag maker. When the Continental Congress needed "colors," Philadelphia upholsterers and needle-workers enjoyed the opportunity to fulfill the government contracts to stitch flags.

My mother/traveling companion, a seamstress, asked "Betsy" if a grommet was used for the holes to attach the flags to the poles. Betsy had no knowledge of grommets and explained that the hole was reinforced hundreds of times with small stitches.

Cutting of a five point star.
Tradition states that she was the first, famed for her five-pointed one-snip star. Betsy was certainly among the several women flag makers of Philadelphia and remained an industrious flag maker for over fifty years. I found it remarkable that during this time so many women were employed in useful occupations to support the banner of freedom!

Independence Hall, originally Pennsylvania State House
As I stood in the early evening shadow of Independence Hall, waiting for our tour, the bell tolled six times. There I was on the hallowed ground of our country's birthplace, under the same sky, hearing the bell keep time, I was awestruck and humbled. We entered the center hall (from the south entrance) with the Supreme Court Room to the left and the Assembly Hall to the right where the        Declaration of Independence was signed and the U.S. Constitution was written. While in these rooms my imagination took flight and I heard the murmurs of our founding fathers as they ironed out the important issues of our democracy.


Supreme Court Room

Assembly Hall
Photo courtesy USHistory.org
As George Washington presided over the Federal Convention's sessions for nearly three months, he sat in this chair with a half sunburst carved into the top arch. Benjamin Franklin was reported to have said, "I have often looked at that behind the president without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now I... know that it is a rising...sun."


Again, I heard the magnificent sound of the bell as it struck seven, as we strolled toward another sight. The Tomb of an Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier.


As I approached this huge monument a stillness came over me. My eyes were immediately drawn to the statue of the father of our country, and brave leader, George Washington. The inscription above him read, "Freedom is a light for which man men have died in darkness." What a sobering thought. This was not a monument that one merely comes to take a peek at and quickly walks away.

The inscription on one side of the monument is from George Washington's 1796 Farewell Address, "The independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint councils and joint efforts of common dangers, suffering and success."


On the other: "In unmarked graves within this square lie thousands of unknown soldiers of Washington's Army who died of wounds and sickness during the Revolutionary War."
And in the singular tomb in the forefront. Is there truly a unknown soldier buried inside? (Forgive me, this writer wonders things like this.) A tour guide comes by and affirms that indeed,  "Beneath this stone rests a soldier of Washington's army who died to give you liberty." Had they not, I would not have been there standing in front of the eternal flame of freedom.



On to the Liberty Bell! The Liberty Bell originally hung in the Pennsylvania State House, later called Independence Hall. The bell I had admired ringing earlier would have been this very bell, had it been in the times of our founding fathers. Bells were rung on July 8 to mark the reading of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia in 1776. Surely this very bell rang to mark our Independence!


As before entering Independence Hall, people and property were scanned before entry. A stark reminder never to take our liberty for granted. I did not know what to expect at the Liberty Bell. I grew up near Plymouth Rock. You simply walk up to the rock, look at it, and take a picture. Here there was a exhibition, as you walked along, explaining the history of the Liberty Bell and its significance to many Americans through the generations. The exhibition was very moving, more so than I imagined it might be. I really knew little about it. The Liberty Bell's inscription is from Leviticus 25:10. "Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof." Abolitionists in the 1830's dubbed the State House bell, the "Liberty Bell" and used it as a symbol for freedom. There it was, another great symbol of our freedom...a bell that no longer rings. But let us never allow the sound of freedom to not be heard in our great nation!


New Englander Carla Gade writes from her Victorian home in central Maine. With ten books in print she enjoys bringing her tales to life with historically authentic settings and characters. An avid reader, amateur genealogist, photographer, and house plan hobbyist, Carla's great love (next to her family) is historical research. Though you might find her tromping around an abandoned homestead, an old fort, or interviewing a docent at an historical museum, it's easier to connect with her online.


4 comments:

  1. Heartfelt and beautifully and thoughtfully written.

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  2. Lovely post, Carla! We have loved visiting Philadelphia while researching for stories like Saving the Marquise's Granddaughter! I'm so glad you had a chance to travel with your wonderful mom and get to fully experience this amazing historical city! Thanks for sharing all these great pictures too! Love the comment about the grommet!

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  3. Thanks for such a great post, Carla. Philadelphia is a fascinating city rich with history.

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  4. Having visited Philadelphia a number of years ago, you refreshed my memories making me want to return and consider all this history once more. Thanks so much!

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