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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1046
AUTHOR: The Bible
QUOTATION: Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.
ATTRIBUTION: The Bible, Leviticus 25:10.

“In a letter written by a committee of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly, 1 Nov., 1751, ordering a bell for the tower of the new State House, it was directed that this quotation from the Bible should be inscribed around it ‘well-shaped in large letters.’”—The Home Book of Quotations, 10th ed., ed. Burton Stevenson, pp. 1104–5 (1967).

The bell was ordered to celebrate fifty years of William Penn’s Charter of Privileges. Penn left England in 1699 to return to America, where he drew up a document known as the Charter of Privileges, which was confirmed by the Assembly on October 28, 1701, and “remained substantially the fundamental law of Pennsylvania until 1776.”—[Federal] Writer’s Program, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania: A Guide to the Keystone State, p. 30 (1940). The verse above is more fitting for a fiftieth anniversary than it appears, for it begins: And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year …”

This bell, known as the Liberty Bell since about 1839, was rung July 8, 1776, with other church bells, announcing the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. The bell may be seen in Liberty Bell Pavilion, just north of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

These words are also inscribed on a plaque in the stairwell of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.