1729: Pennsylvania Assembly decides to build a “house for the Assembly to meet in.”

1732: Construction of State House begins. [Link to Independence Hall Architectural Change Over Time, Independence National Historical Park]

1750-53: Tower and steeple added; bell – with inscription “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” – ordered (1751) and hung in steeple (1753).

1776: Declaration of Independence adopted; first Pennsylvania Constitution drafted; Articles of Confederation drafted. [Link to documents]

1780: Pennsylvania Assembly passes the nation’s first Gradual Abolition Law.

1781: Steeple demolished.

1785-91: Construction of new buildings on the State House Square: Philosophical Hall, County Court House (now Congress Hall), and City Hall (now Old City Hall).

1787: Constitutional Convention.

1790s: Philadelphia serves as the nation’s capital.

1802-28: Charles Willson Peale’s museum occupies second floor of State House. [Link to virtual tour, ExplorePAHistory.com]

1810s: Original piazzas demolished (1812), but building otherwise saved when purchased from the state by the City of Philadelphia (1816-18).

1824: Marquis de Lafayette received in the room renamed “the Hall of Independence.” [Link to documents]

1828: Steeple rebuilt.

1830s-40s: State House Bell becomes the symbolic “Liberty Bell” in publications of New York and Boston abolitionists.

1830s-50s: Court proceedings in Independence Hall and Congress Hall include cases determining freedom or bondage for apprentices and accused fugitive slaves.

1844: Frederick Douglass speaks against slavery in Independence Square. [Link to documents]

1848: Viewing held for John Quincy Adams, Congressman, former President, and son of Declaration signer John Adams. [Link to documents]

1850-51: Following Compromise of 1850, fugitive slave hearings and Christiana “riot” trial occur in U.S. District Court, second floor of Independence Hall. [Link to documents]

1852: Viewing held for U.S. Senator Henry Clay, architect of the Compromise of 1850. [Link to documents]

1855: “Hall of Independence” transformed into shrine by Philadelphia office-holders, who also espouse nativist politics; City Council chambers installed on second floor.

1861-65: Abraham Lincoln visits in 1861; public viewing held after assassination, 1865.

1870s: Independence Square debated as site for new City Hall.

1876: Centennial of Declaration of Independence; “National Museum” created in first floor of Independence Hall; Susan B. Anthony speaks for women’s rights on July 4, 1876.

1885-1915: The Liberty Bell tours the nation seven times; exhibited in New Orleans (1885), Chicago (1893), Atlanta (1895), Charleston, S.C. (1902), Boston (1903), St. Louis (1904), and San Francisco (1915). [Link to documents]

1887: Constitution Centennial.

1896-98: Restoration of Independence Hall’s second floor and exterior arcades.

1906: Remains of Declaration Signer James Wilson honored.

1912: City government restricts use of Independence Square to patriotic, officially sanctioned events.

1920: Ratification of Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the vote, celebrated in Independence Square.

1926: Sesquicentennial of Declaration of Independence.

1937: Sesquicentennial of Constitution.

1942: Independence Hall Association founded; National Freedom Day initiated to commemorate Thirteenth Amendment (1865), which ended slavery in the United States.

1947: Restrictions on free speech in Independence Square, enacted by city in 1912, ruled unconstitutional.

1948: Congress authorizes Independence National Historical Park.

1950s-1960s: Demolition creates Independence Mall and Independence National Historical Park.

1963 and 1965: Sit-ins at the Liberty Bell support African American civil rights.

1965-69: Reminder Day gay rights demonstrations at Independence Hall. [Link to PDF document]

1973: Independence Hall access limited to guided tours.

1976: Bicentennial of Declaration of Independence; Liberty Bell moved to separate pavilion.

1987: Constitution Bicentennial; Congress meets in Independence Hall.

2001: Security increased after September 11 attacks; measures include closing Chestnut Street. Independence Visitor Center opens.

2002: Citizens urge National Park Service to mark the site of George Washington’s house, Sixth and Market Streets, and to memorialize the enslaved Africans of his household. [Link to President’s House Case Study]

2003: Chestnut Street, closed since September 11, 2001, reopens in response to citizens’ campaign. National Constitution Center and Liberty Bell Center open.

2010: Dedication of outdoor exhibit and memorial at site of the President’s House, Sixth and Market Streets.

1 Comment

  1. […] for providing information about protests and demonstrations in and around the building, and for a timeline for ready reference. Along with this valuable advice, Christian Higgins and Andrea Ashby at the […]

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