The Freeman (Indianapolis, Indiana) “A National Illustrated Colored Newspaper”
December 3, 1904
By W. Milton Lewis, Indianapolis, Ind.
If one may judge by the reception accorded the Liberty Bell last week in this city patriotism and veneration for the things associated with the past are not among the things wanting. The people were anxious to see some visible evidence, this tangible thing that stands out clear like a cameo from the haze and mist of time. The generation has its doubting Thomas who desired to see and feel the rent and gape. Added to these are the thousands more who are strong in their love of country and all things associated with it; they are sentimental, but to a saving degree, and on whom we depend for the infusion of patriotic fervor.
The school is a surer means of the country’s defense; it neglects no occasion where and when can be taught the lessons of greater regard for country, the native land. The visit of Liberty Bell was one of these opportunities ; it was eagerly seized. Thousands of children, pouring out from every quarter of the city, joined the surging throng, all bent on the one thing, that of taking old “Fort” Liberty Bell captive. The human tide swept along like an ocean stream; some chatting, some laughing, others wept; true to life in its march to its goal. But all is well that ends well and Liberty Bell is now captive in their hearts. In the years to come they will tell their children’s children how they stormed that day and how they won.
The people were genuine in their enthusiasm over the relic. The expense of the exhibition was worth the while; it was an excellent test of the sentiment of the people. The bell is as a part of the “Ark of the Covenant,” religiously guarded, yet the truthfulness of the existence made manifest plays an important part in maintaining the national sanctity for the, at least, civilly sanctified.
Viewed politically, the bell is a commoner; it makes excursions among the people. It was a glorious old common man that rang it, and his common grandson that was near. Yet they will pass into history with Thomas Jefferson and others who sat beneath the old man and doubtless feeling relieved at the consummation of a work that would prove immortal in event of victory, but a fiasco in defeat. As Tennyson’s bells of the new year; it rang out the old, the tax laden conditions of non representation ; it rang in the fairest flower that blows—a government where the people are sovereign, and so far as the government is concerned, taking no cognizance of the one individual as above the other. It rang the chord—the signal of the passing of the yoke—the first great emancipation on the American soil and a token of the one to be—proclaiming “no peace,” “no peace,” to the liberty disturbed as Patrick Henry, until the sweeter tones of “glory,” “glory” defeated the strident sibilants hissed up from slavery’s mire.