American history can be felt up close in the clinker brick building of Philadelphia. In the former seat of government of Pennsylvania, the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th, 1776 by the delegates of the 13 American colonies – the birth certificate of the new state. Independence Hall is now a museum.
Philadelphia Independence Hall: Facts
|Official title:||Independence Hall in Philadelphia|
|Cultural monument:||Independence Hall, originally the Pennsylvania Colony House of Parliament, with the glass pavilion for the Liberty Bell, part of Independence National Historical Park|
|Meaning:||a testimony of particular importance to the history of the United States of America|
Philadelphia Independence Hall: History
|1732-41||Construction of Independence Hall|
|1775||Appointment of General George Washington as Commander in Chief of the American Independence Army|
|1775-81||Meeting place of the Second Continental Congress, including with delegates Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams|
|4.7.1776||Signing of the declaration of independence|
|8.7.1776||Peal of the Liberty Bell as a sign of independence|
|11/15/1777||Approval of the delegates of the Congress to the Articles of Confederation|
|1781||Ratification of the Articles of Confederation in all colonies and work of the Confederation Congress|
|1782-83||Negotiations on the Treaty of Paris on American independence|
|1787||Drafting the Constitution of the United States of America and establishing the US Congress|
|1789-1800||Seat of the Supreme Court of the United States of America|
|1976||Accommodation of the Liberty Bell in a separate glass pavilion|
A shrine with no relic
No doubt it is because of the ancient brick complex that the heart of this city has been spared the desolation that ravaged other American inner cities in the second half of the 20th century. Framed by a pleasing ensemble of Wilhelminian-style and more modern buildings, you will find urban spaces in which people meet to see and be seen. It is not the beauty of the central building that is significant, although its paired layout accommodates the sense of proportion, but the symbolism associated with the building.
The Independence Hall is like a shrine without a relic. What gives it meaning is not kept here but in the Washington National Archives. There, on an altar with a tryptichon, the founding documents of the nation are kept behind bulletproof glass, the declaration of independence in the middle, flanked to the right and left by the United States Constitution and the ten constitutional amendments added later – “Bill of Rights”.
In the administration of British Pennsylvania – later made history as the Independence Hall – the representatives of the 13 English colonies of America met and brought legal action against the English crown, which had violated their rights by taxing the colonies. After their complaints had been formulated, the delegates adjourned, but promised to meet again if the English king did not hear their complaints. Since the king was unwilling to remedy the complaints of his distant subjects, the Continental Congress met again in May 1775 and discussed the situation. Meanwhile, the country was fermenting after English troops fired at civilians in Concord and Lexington: “Independence” was the nonsense that no one dared utter, but was in the air.
No, the men who met in Philadelphia wanted to be good citizens of His Majesty. Separation from England was far from them. But in the months in which they sat together six days a week and as a permanent assembly of delegates regulated all the affairs of the colonies, the situation came to a head. English troops landed in New York and American provincial units occupied forts of colonial power.
The “Declaration” that was finally introduced followed the tradition of the legal instrument with which the British lords ended the reign of James II at the end of the 17th century. A declaration was a list of complaints, and it is these complaints that make up the greater part of the now famous Declaration of Independence, which was passed on July 2, 1776 and solemnly signed two days later.
Following their English model, this American list of complaints preceded a catalog of rights, which is the basis of every contract between rulers and subjects. It contains those famous sentences about the equality of all people and the inalienability of their natural, God-given rights. Like its English predecessor, the “Declaration of Rights” of 1698, the American declaration denounced the treaty between the king and the people, which meant America’s independence. By the end of the War of Independence that followed this declaration, she had done her duty and was largely forgotten. The promise of the forgotten Declaration of Independence led a secret life of its own. The vision of the equality of all people born neither to serve nor to rule, revived in the discussion of slavery. With the end of the civil war and the adoption of the constitutional amendments for the abolition of slavery, the canonization of the “Declaration of Independence” began as the original form of the declaration of human rights.