Book Minute

Sign Up For Book Minute
February 15, 2021

Abolition and the Liberty Bell

Few objects resound through American history more than the Liberty Bell. But did you know it wasn’t originally called the Liberty Bell? Or that the reason for the name is the Bible verse inscribed on its side?  As you can see on the replica in front of you, the words, from Leviticus 25:10 read: “Proclaim Liberty thro’ all the Land to the Inhabitants Thereof.” It was in 1839, decades after the bell was cast, that the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison published a poem calling it the “Liberty Bell” — and the name stuck! Garrison and other abolitionists cherished the bell because they cherished the verse it proclaimed. Garrison readily quoted the verse in his private letters. Abolitionist ministers often used the verse in their sermons and writings. The bell and its verse became a national symbol for the movement to end slavery. The extent to which this Bible verse entered national consciousness is displayed on a famous lithograph released for Lincoln’s 1864 election campaign called, “Freedom to the Slaves.” The print features Lincoln pointing to the heavens while an African American, whose shackles have been removed, thanks the president for the emancipation proclamation. In the caption are the words of Leviticus 25:10 — biblical words that proclaim liberty for all.

Explore Other Book Minutes

Click Here