Documents

Table of Contents

Founding Documents
Building at Risk
Slavery and Freedom
Reception Rituals
The Honored Dead
Protests and Demonstrations
Presidential Addresses
Independence Hall and the World

 



Founding Documents

The Declaration of Independence (1776) [link]

…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. …

The Pennsylvania Constitution (1776) [link]

… It is absolutely necessary for the welfare and safety of the inhabitants of said colonies, that they be henceforth free and independent States, and that just, permanent, and proper forms of government exist in every part of them …

The Articles of Confederation (1777) [link]

… Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled. …

The Constitution of the United States (1787) [link]

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. …

 



Building at Risk

Fire in the State House (1824) [link]

On Wednesday night, between 11 and 12 o’clock, a fire was discovered in the Mayor’s Court room …

Conditions in the 1830s [link]

… In the name of all that is decent, we hope that our authorities will cause this edifice to be put into a condition less offensive to eye or nose.



Slavery and Freedom

The Pennsylvania Gradual Abolition Act (1780) [link]

… We conceive that it is our duty, and we rejoice that it is in our Power, to extend a Portion of that freedom to others, which hath been extended to us …

Frederick Douglass in the State House Square (1844) [link]

… How a man not six years freed from the yoke, and never having been, as he said, a single day to school in his life, should exhibit such a command of language and force of thought, they were utterly at a loss to imagine. …

Fugitive Slave Hearings (1850-51) [link]

This afternoon, about 1 o’clock, a young black man apparently about 24 years of age, named Adam Gibson, was taken to the U. S. Marshal’s office by Geo. Albertin, Wm. M’Kinsley and Robt. Smith, nominally on a charge of stealing chickens, but really is a runaway slave.



Reception Rituals

Marquis de Lafayette [link]

… Here within these sacred walls, by a council of wise and devoted patriots, and in a style worthy of the deed itself, was boldly declared the independence of these vast United States …

Henry Clay (1848) [link]

… Mr. Clay’s arrival at Independence Hall was hailed with vociferous cheers, the rush to get even a glimpse of him was tremendous, the enthusiasm was perfectly wild. …

Visitors from Boston (1854) [link]

… To this Hall–the birth-place of American Independence and American Union, it is hardly our privilege to invite you;–for it is your own. The men of Massachusetts, when they come here, come home. …

 



The Honored Dead

John Quincy Adams (1848) [link]

… Independence Hall, where the remains are to rest to night, is most befittingly hung and festooned with mourning. …

Henry Clay (1852) [link]

… The scene at the midnight hour in Independence Hall was one of the deepest gloom and sadness. …

Abraham Lincoln (1865)

Vice President Henry Wilson (1875) [link]

… Not less than 15,000 persons passed through the hall during the time it was open, from midnight on Friday until the moving of the funeral cortege on Saturday morning. …


Protests and Demonstrations

Workingmen’s Demonstration (1836) [link]

…as the children of men who perilled all to establish an asylum for their descendants, which should be governed by the immutable principles of justice and equity, and feeling we have been betrayed and disgraced, we religiously and solemnly protest against the present order of affairs. …

Frederick Douglass in the State House Square (1844) [link]

… How a man not six years freed from the yoke, and never having been, as he said, a single day to school in his life, should exhibit such a command of language and force of thought, they were utterly at a loss to imagine. …

Liberty for Europe — And More (1848) [link]

… One of the most interesting features of the occasion was the organization of a spontaneous and distinct meeting near the south gate, which was composed partly of colored people, and which was addressed in good style by several colored men. …

Susan B. Anthony, Declaration of Rights for for Women (1876) [link to text]

… Our faith is firm and unwavering in the broad principles of human rights proclaimed in 1776, not only as abstract truths, but as the corner stones of a republic. Yet we cannot forget, even in this glad hour, that while all men of every race, and clime, and condition, have been invested with the full rights of citizenship under our hospitable flag, all women still suffer the degradation of disfranchisement. …

Why Are Homosexual American Citizens Picketing at Independence Hall on July 4? (Reminder Day, 1965) [link to PDF]

… The Declaration of Independence says: “All men are created equal.” But in no walk of life, and in none of his dealings, whether with his fellow citizens or with his governments (Federal, state, or local) is the homosexual American citizen treated as equal to others; he is always placed in a status of inferiority. …

Document courtesy of Independence National Historical Park Library and Archives and Bob Skiba.

 



Presidential Addresses

Abraham Lincoln (1861) [link to text]

… I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing here, in this place, where were collected together the wisdom, the patriotism, the devotion to principle, from which sprang the institutions under which we live. …

Benjamin Harrison (1891) [link to text]

I esteem it a great pleasure to stand in this historic edifice, in this historic city …

Woodrow Wilson (1914) [link to text]

… It is very inspiring, my friends, to come to this that may be called the original fountain of independence and liberty in American and here drink draughts of patriotic feeling which seem to renew the very blood in one’s veins. …

Calvin Coolidge (1926) [link to text]

… It is little wonder that people at home and abroad consider Independence Hall as hallowed ground and revere the Liberty Bell as a sacred relic. That pile of bricks and mortar, that mass of metal, might appear to the uninstructed as only the outgrown meeting place and the shattered bell of a former time, useless now because of more modern conveniences, but to those who know they have become consecrated by the use which men have made of them. …

John F. Kennedy (1962) [link to text] [link to video]

… If there is a single issue that divides the world today, it is independence–the independence of Berlin or Laos or Viet-Nam; the longing for independence behind the Iron Curtain; the peaceful transition to independence in those newly emerging areas whose troubles some – hope to exploit. …

Lyndon Johnson (1963) [link to video clip]

…These times, the issues of this moment in our history, call out for men and women who love their country to step forward with responsible leadership to implement in our national life the ideals of our national literature. …

Richard Nixon (1972) [link to text] [link to photo]

… As we sign this historic document today, we are carrying on the work which started here in Independence Square–where independence was declared, where the Constitution was written, and where the Bill of Rights was formally added to the Constitution. …

Gerald Ford (1976) [link to text – PDF] [link to video]

… From this small but beautiful building, then the most imposing structure in the colonies, came the two great documents that continue to supply the moral and intellectual power for the American adventure in self-government. …

George W. Bush (2001) [link to text]

… The world still echoes with the ideals of America’s Declaration. Our ideals have been accepted in many countries and bitterly opposed by tyrants. They are the mighty rock on which we have built our Nation. …



Independence Hall and the World

Philadelphia,–Home of the United Nations (1945) [link to text]

… Independence Hall, recognized throughout the world as the birthplace of political liberty and democracy, is the shrine around which the United Nations Council buildings should be grouped. …

World Heritage Site Designation (1979) [link to text] [link to video]

… The universal principles of the right to revolution and self-government as expressed in the U.S. Declaration of Independence (1776) and Constitution (1787), which were debated, adopted, and signed in Independence Hall, have profoundly influenced lawmakers and politicians around the world. …

Nelson Mandela, Liberty Medal Acceptance Speech (1993) [link]

… It is a moving thing for us – that we, who represent forces that have still to proclaim that freedom’s day has come, are today being handed the baton in the race to liberty, at whose starting point in Philadelphia stood the great men of whom the freed slave Frederick Douglass spoke with such warmth and charity of spirit. …

Pope Francis, Address of the Holy Father, Meeting for Religious Liberty with the Hispanic Community and Other Immigrants (2015) [link]

… The Declaration of Independence stated that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that governments exist to protect and defend those rights. Those ringing words continue to inspire us today, even as they have inspired peoples throughout the world to fight for the freedom to live in accordance with their dignity. …


1 Comment

  1. […] an overseas flight to London in 1945.  To see how the interest in Philadelphia began, also see the original editorial from the Philadelphia Record, which I have just posted on the companion site for Independence Hall in […]

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