On This Day, July 16

On this day in 1776, a 2,000-pound copper-and-tin bell now known as the “Liberty Bell” rings out from the tower of the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, summoning citizens to the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Four days earlier, the historic document had been adopted by delegates to the Continental Congress, but the bell did not ring to announce the issuing of the document until the Declaration of Independence returned from the printer on July 8.

As an aside, the question of when the Liberty Bell acquired its famous fracture has been the subject of a good deal of historical debate. In the most commonly accepted account, the bell suffered a major break while tolling for the funeral of the chief justice of the United States, John Marshall, in 1835, and in 1846 the crack expanded to its present size while in use to mark Washington’s birthday. After that date, it was regarded as unsuitable for ringing, but it was still ceremoniously tapped on occasion to commemorate important events. On June 6, 1944, when Allied forces invaded France, the sound of the bell’s dulled ring was broadcast by radio across the United States. Ring your bell at the library for independence at the library,  on hoopla and OverDrive. Go to Freegal for music of the American Revolution.


bill withers

Bill Withers stepped into a recording studio for the very first time at the age of 32, and two years later, he’d written and recorded one of the most beloved pop songs of the modern era: “Lean On Me,” which began its first stay at #1 on the pop charts on July 8,  1972. Withers was still a full-time factory worker when he wrote the song whose success would finally convince him to give up his day job. “For a long time I didn’t really accept my new career,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1975. “It was like I was on vacation from the factory and at some point I would have to take my tool box and go back to work.” Withers’ “Lean On Me” became a simultaneous #1 hit on the Billboard pop and R&B charts on this day in 1972, and it returned to the #1 spot on the pop charts in March 1987 in a hip-hop inflected remake by Club Nouveau. It has also been covered by artists as diverse as Michael Bolton (1994), Anne Murray (1999) and Limp Bizkit (2005). Lean on the library,  hoopla and Freegal

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