The Justice Bell (The Women's Liberty Bell) is a replica of the Liberty Bell made in 1915. It was created to promote the cause for women's suffrage in the United States from 1915 to 1920. The bell is on permanent display at the Washington Memorial Chapel in Valley Forge National Park in Pennsylvania.
Casting and design
The Justice Bell was commissioned by suffragist Katherine Wentworth Ruschenberger in 1915 and was cast by the Meneely Bell Foundry in Troy, New York. The Justice Bell is a replica of the Liberty Bell, with a few minor design differences. The Justice Bell does not have a crack, and the words, "establish JUSTICE" were added on the top line of the inscription. Also, the Liberty Bell was cast in London, and the Justice Bell was cast in Troy, New York.
The inscription on the Justice Bell reads:
Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof
Meneeley Bell Co
Suffrage awareness tours and the 19th Amendment
In an effort to raise awareness for women's suffrage, the bell went on a 5,000-mile tour in 1915, visiting all 67 Pennsylvania counties, on the bed of a modified pickup truck. The bell's clapper was chained to its side as a symbol of how women were being silenced by being unable to vote. The truck carried a sign with the slogan of the suffragist moment: "Votes for Women", a phrase coined by Mark Twain as the title of his famous speech in 1901.
Flyers stating the tour's mission were handed out to spectators. An excerpt reads:
The Woman's Liberty Bell - "Liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof" was the message of The Liberty Bell of 1776. It proclaimed the birth of a new nation "DEDICATED TO THE PROPOSITION THE GOVERNMENTS DERIVE THEIR POWER FROM THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED" AND THAT "TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION IS TYRNNY." Today, fifty million of these inhabitants are women ... The new bell is the Women's Liberty Bell, which is to ring for the first time on the day that the Women of Pennsylvania are granted the right to vote ...The Liberty bell 1776 rang to "Proclaim Liberty" to create our nation "The Woman's Liberty Bell" will ring to establish justice to complete our nation. Help break the chains that hold the bronze clapper silent Vote "Yes" on the Suffrage Amendment on Election Day Pennsylvania
The Justice Bell was met by large crowds, marching bands, and parades everywhere it went. The reception was particularly notable in large cities such as New York City and Philadelphia. On October 22, 1915, the bell was welcomed to Philadelphia, joining in a parade of 8000 people, witnessed by a crowd of 100,000 people. Anna Howard Shaw's Yellow Suffrage automobile also appeared in the procession. The parade on Broad Street led to a ceremony held at the Academy of Music, which was attended by many dignitaries.
The bell also traveled to other states in 1920 to raise awareness for the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which would give women the right to vote. The Justice Bell was taken to the first national convention of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (National Women's Party) in Washington, D.C. It was also present at the national suffrage convention in Chicago.
The 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920. The Justice Bell was sounded at a celebration ceremony led by Katherine Wentworth Ruschenberger was held on Independence Square, behind Independence Hall in Philadelphia on September 25, 1920. Ruschenberger's niece, Catherine Wentworth, released the Justice Bell from silence before a large crowd that had gathered on the south side of Independence Hall. Two of Susan B. Anthony's nieces were among the many dignitaries in attendance. The bell rang 48 times, once for every state in the union at that time.
Post 19th Amendment
- Beginning in 1920, the Justice Bell has been stored on the grounds of Valley Forge National Park, after being denied a permanent installation on Independence Mall. Beginning in 1943, per Katherine Wentworth Ruschenberger's will, the Justice Bell permanently resides in the chamber of the National Patriots Bell Tower at the Washington Memorial Chapel in Valley Forge National Park.
- In April 1995, in honor of the 75th anniversary of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, the Justice Bell traveled again. It was displayed in the rotunda of the Pennsylvania State Capitol building in Harrisburg for a week and then at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, before embarking on a yearlong anniversary tour of Pennsylvania. On August 22, 1996, the Justice Bell returned to Washington Memorial Chapel, where it remains on public exhibition.
- In 2015, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Justice Bell, Independence National Historical Park unveiled an exhibit titled "Independence Hall & Votes for Women" in the Liberty Bell Center, located on Independence Mall.
- On September 13, 2015, during a celebration of its 100th anniversary held at the Washington Memorial Chapel, the Justice Bell was ceremoniously rung and its clapper was symbolically unchained.
- "We All Know the Liberty Bell, but have you heard of the "Justice Bell?"".
- "Mark Twain Speech Votes For Women". www.famous-speeches-and-speech-topics.info.
- The New York Times (October 23, 1915). "8,000 March in Philadelphia" (PDF). www.nytimes.com. Retrieved Feb 26, 2016.
- Rellahan, Michael P. (September 11, 2015). "100 years for 'Justice Bell'". www.dailylocal.com. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
- Holst, Holly. "Silent No More: The Story of the Justice Bell". The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
- "Philadelphia's 1920 Celebration of the 19th Amendment". www.justicebell.org.
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania. "Silent No More: The Justice Bell". www.philadelphiaencyclopedia.org. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
- Mires, Charlene (November 5, 2015). "Commemorating the Justice Bell Tour". Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities. Rutgers University. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
- "Justice Bell Off On Anniversary Tour Its 1915 Tour Drummed Up Support For Women's Suffrage. The '95 Tour Honors Women Voters".
- "Washington Memorial Chapel – The Bell Tower and Carillon". www.wmchapel.org. Washington Memorial Chapel. 2016. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
- "Justice Bell History". www.justicebell.com. Archived from the original on March 1, 2016. Retrieved February 26, 2016.