Liberty Bell of the
The ancient bronze bell was cast
in La Rochelle France in 1741 and sent to King Louis XV of France to the
Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception at Kaskaskia. An inscription
on the bell in French says "For the Church of Illinois, by gift of the
King across the water." It took almost two years to deliver the 650
pound bell by way of New Orleans. The raft carrying the bell was
pulled the long way up the Mississippi River to Kaskaskia. The bell
has hung under French, British and U.S. flags. It was rung for liberty
on July 4, 1778 when George Rogers Clark captured Kaskaskia for the American
colonies. This is how it came to be called "the Liberty Bell of the
West." It rang again to celebrate the visit of the Marquis de La
Fayette in 1825. In 1873, a set of new bells were cast and placed
in the church.
It is not known for sure, but
maybe it was at this time that the crack was discovered in the 1741 bell
and it was not re-hung, but rested instead on the church floor for several
years. In 1916, the bell was almost given to a Springfield museum,
but the people of Kaskaskia refused to allow it as their bell is eleven
years older than the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.
In 1948, the present location
of the bell was built. The cornerstone marked 1937 was taken from
the early stone church in Kaskaskia and moved. The bell is rung each
July 4th to celebrate our freedom.