Real story of cracking of Liberty Bell by the boy who broke it!
by Kenneth W Payne
New York, July 6 – The true story of the little boy who broke the Liberty Bell — told by himself!
It has been quoted to me here — given to the world at large practically for the first time!
Of course, the old Liberty Bell, now in its decrepit state bound across the continent to the Panama-Pacific exposition, officially broke down at the funeral of Chief Justice John Marshall, on July 8, 1835 — 80 years ago.
That historical account of the famous crack is all the more attractive because July 8 of the year 1776 is also the real date when the bell first celebrated the Declaration of Independence. So that, in the official story, the famous old bell’s tongue was silenced forever on the 50th anniversary, to a day, of its FIRST peal of American liberty — silenced when tolling for the death of one of the greatest interpreters of that liberty, John Marshall, our most famous supreme court justice.
But after guarding his secret for over three-quarters of a century, Emmanuel J Rauch, civil war veteran of this city, told the TRUE story of how the Liberty Bell was cracked. He had helped to crack it.
Old Emmanuel Rauch is dead. He passed away barely a year ago.
“It was on Washington’s birthday, in the year 1835. I was ten years old then. My family was Pennsylvania Dutch and had come to Philadelphia from Chester, Pa., in 1832 – seven years after I was born.”
Thus Rauch narrated his secret, in words quoted to me today by his widow, Mrs EJ Rauch of this city, and vouched for by many relatives and friends.
“My mother had sent me to the shop that morning,” Rauch said, “and I heard ‘Major Jack’ — that’s what we boys called Jack Downing, the keeper of the steeple, who was quite a character in Philadelphia — calling me.
“He corralled a lot of youngsters beside me and then asked us, ‘Say, boys, do you want to ring the Liberty Bell today, in honor of Washington’s birthday?’
“Did we want to! ‘Major Jack’ climbed up into the steeple and tied a rope around the clapper. When he came down we took the other end, as he told us to, began pulling with all our might.”
And to make a long story short, the boys pulled with such might that the old bell cracked under the strain!
“We never said a word about our exploit. It seemed one of those things that 10-year-old boys who aren’t looking for trouble had best keep silent about. And I guess Major Jack wasn’t inclined to talk about it, either.”