Independence Hall & Independence Square
Independence Hall Assembly Room
Independence Hall, once called the Pennsylvania State House, is a very impressive site that I visited while in Philadelphia.
The building took over 21 years to build. It became Philadelphia’s chief landmark. It has two very large wings with clocks near the top of each, and a brick bell tower in the middle. The main Assembly Room has chairs and desks and a raised platform for the person in charge. You can see the Assembly Room in the picture. It was here the Second Continental Congress met and eventually adopted the Declaration of Independence.
It was John Hancock, sitting on the raised platform as presiding officer, who was the very first to sign the Declaration of Independence. His signature was large (remember?) – he wanted King George to see it clearly. Feather quills, green desk covers, red drapes, high ceilings, a circular setting of desks, a variety of chairs – it all added to an historic atmosphere. It was also in this room that the Constitutional Convention debated and adopted the United States Constitution in 1789. George Washington presided over this convention and sat in the chair with the "Rising Sun" you can see in the picture.
I stood there knowing full well that this was an important part of our history. The atmosphere was really one of reverence. It is too bad all Americans cannot visit this room, this building and experience it for themselves.
Outside, behind the building, was a rear courtyard. Apparently much of the behind-the-scenes decision making of the Constitutional Congress took place outside in this courtyard. Also, it was here many official town gatherings occurred. In 1775 a large gathering of Philadelphians came and cheered at the news of the battles at Lexington and Concord. And it was here on July 8, 1776, in the courtyard behind the then Pennsylvania State House, where the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence took place. It is no wonder this building would become known as Independence Hall and the courtyard, Independence Square.
Incidentally, there is much to see that is within walking distance of Independence Hall. From the Liberty Bell, the home of Betsy Ross and Ben Franklin’s burial place to wonderful and fascinating statues and stories of men like Robert Morris.
Morris was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States. He was one of the wealthiest men in America who helped with money and supplies for the Continental Army. He encouraged making Philadelphia the temporary capitol, which it was for 10 years from 1790-1800. He even allowed George and Martha Washington to live in his elegant house and conduct business while the new capitol in Washington DC was being constructed. He was a vital financier for this country yet, eventually, went bankrupt and lived a modest life.
Such stories of remarkable men and women are everywhere near Independence Hall. I would give myself at least a full day if you want to read most of everything and listen to the many presentations that are available. I like history and enjoyed this area of Philadelphia. If you enjoy history you might like it too.
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