Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Philadelphia ---- Independence Hall

After our interesting journey to Philadelphia, described here, and after checking into our hotel, we set out on foot for Independence National Historical Park and, as the brochure says:

"where so much of our (meaning American) Colonial, Revolutionary and Federal-period heritage is preserved."

Several years ago, while in Washington, DC, we visited the National Archives where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are displayed, now sealed in argon gas, in their newly renovated home in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom*. The room was softly lit and people waited quietly in line to enter the rotunda and slowly filed past the various documents, stopping to inspect them more closely on occasion and even though I am not American I found it a quite moving experience.

But it was here, in Philadelphia, in the Pennsylvania State House, in June 1776, at a meeting of the Continental Congress, that Virginia delegate Richard Lee proposed that the colonies, now in armed conflict with England, be proclaimed free and independent states. Thomas Jefferson drafted the formal declaration, with revisions by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, and the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776. That night John Dunlap, official printer, hastily produced an unknown number of printed copies and these were dispatched next morning around the colonies. Twenty four of these copies, Dunlap Broadsides as they are known, remain in existence today.

On several occasions the US Supreme Court held sessions in this room which was the courthouse in the building

Of course I learned all this on the tour we took of Independence Hall, as the State House is now known, with a Park ranger. Rather a bored one I might add, as he gave this talk for the millionth time I am sure, but rather unenthusiastically. Perhaps it was because it was one of the last tours of the day which we managed to join without the palaver of getting tickets at the Visitors' Centre, elsewhere in the park, and returning later.

The restored Assembly Room in Independence Hall where the Declaration and the Constitution were hammered out and finally signed

In 1781 the new nation adopted the Articles of Confederation, however, in 1787, a Convention was called in Philadelphia to reform these and delegates put together and signed the Constitution which was finally ratified by the last of the states in June 1788. Philadelphia became the nation's temporary capital in 1790 while the permanent site in Washington, DC, was readied and in 1800 the US Government moved to the current capital city.

A side room, restored with furniture of the period.

Another room inside the Hall, restored as a Guards' room

Finally, if you are still with me, for your amusement, from this site:

Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress.
Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the
Declaration of Independence. Franklin discovered electricity by rubbing two
cats backwards and declared, A horse divided against itself cannot stand.
Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.

*The Rotunda for the Charter of Freedoms in the National Archives taken from here.
Click to enlarge, if it pleases you. It is indeed an impressive setting for these historic documents.

Excuse the spacing above, it looks fine in the preview but somewhat awry on publishing.
If I knew how to fix it I would.


Eurodog said...

Interseting post, jmb. Thank you.
I like the "Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead".
Amusing, yes. Surreal even more.
Left you a comment in "Have a break" on my blog.

Liz said...

Another wonderful tour! Do you make notes as you listen to the(bored) guide?

Blogger does strange things with my spacing when I insert photos and, even though I amend it and it looks fine in Preview, it ends up strangely spaced. And it's not even consistent. Sometimes it removes line spacing; sometimes it adds it.

Chrysalis Angel said...

Very nice post. It is amazing to think about where everything took place and how it all came about. You have a really nice blog here jmb.

Voyager said...

I feel like I was there with you. Perhaps you should give the tour instead of the bored ranger. I know you would make it lively and fun.

Sienna said...

Incredible tour, I love the tours and history....never bores me, my American history is not real knowledgeable either, so this is great JMB...

Helping out on some night duty, school hols is on and everyone has come down with bronchitis/flus, plus fencing here on farm had to get climbing rocks for a while now :)

Gets a little crazy come spring, a foal due any week now, will get pics up asap...and my accountant is chasing me for papers...I maybe Australia's most wanted?

I love the timber in historical buildings and furniture....such richness and funny Franklin still dead, that's just a hoot.

Hope to catch up with everyone has been wild and windy.....many parts need rain desperately for crops..very very dry in areas.


Crushed by Ingsoc said...

Apparently, Bermuda sent representatives to the first continental congress...

Janice Thomson said...

Thank you for this great tour Jmb! The US has such a vivid and extensive historical background. It helps to see this through another's eyes.

Carver said...

You are a so good at these virtual guided tours. Your posts made me start wondering about photographing in doors at places I might enjoy blogging about but assumed I couldn't photograph. Ah, google is a wondrous thing. I've discovered that at many places, they don't mind photography if you don't use flash or tripod. Never would have occurred to me to check on that if I hadn't started wondering how you do it. I had this image of you with a camera hidden up your sleeve. Just kidding. I'm sure I've seen people taking pictures in historic buildings and museums but it never registered with me. Take care, Carver

Josie said...

Wow, JMB, that's amazing. You know, I would love to tour around there. There is so much history. I would love to visit Washington DC and the Smithsonian.

Great photographs you have here too.

jmb said...

Hi Eurodog,
It was an interesting visit despite the bored ranger. I'll check out the comment.

Hi Liz,
I do make notes as I visit and take photos. I'm a very busy tourist.
I wish blogger's preview was the same as the actual blog!

Hi CA,
Thank you for your kind words. I found it very interesting to visit this place.

Hi Voyager,
I suppose I would get bored too after giving the talk umpteen times.

HI Sienna,
Glad to see you again. I love history too and I've learned a lot about this beginning of the USA in the last two years since I went to Washington and Philadelphia.

Hi Crushed,
How do you know all this esoteric stuff? Do you have a photographic memory? Yes apparently they did!

Hi Janice,
I enjoy listening to all this stuff and going to Washington two years ago was one of the best places I've ever been.

Hi Carver,
I am always very careful to ask if photography is allowed and it often is, mostly without flash if the objects are affected by light.

Hi Josie,
Visiting Washington two years ago for five days was amazing. I felt as if I could have spent two weeks there. And everything was free! No admission charges!

Thanks to you all for visiting and commenting

Lee said...

What an incredibly interesting and beautiful city Philadelphia appears to be. These are wonderful posts, jmb.

Oldqueen44 said...

Great pictures. History is so facinating. Good post.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Fascinating, jmb - and wonderful photos again. I didn't know Philadelphia had played such an important part in the Dec of Ind. Re spacing - which looks perfectly all right to me - Shirl told me you have to go into the html and take out the div things between paragraphs.

Gledwood said...

Fascinating post!
I would love to go to America... New York City especially is one megapolis I've always wanted to see... also Washington... I bet that library has a book or two!

jmb said...

Hi Lee,
I thought it was too and still lots more to come.
Hi Old Queen44,
Welcome to my blog, it's great to this these places where such important things happened.

I didn't know either all this about Philadelphia until recently. My spacing problems are because I load photos on the left or right side often and expect the wrap around to work but it doesn't always and in this post it was a problem. I do venture into the html on occasion but sometimes make things worse, can you imagine?

Hi Gleds,
You would love NYC and also Washington. I thought it was fabulous and entry to everything was free!

Thanks for visiting and commenting