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Philadelphia


Thaddeus Kosciuszko
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Mrs. TK and I visited our daughter, and we took a trip into Philadelphia to see the historic sights.  Our first stop was The National Constitution Center:

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It was a busy place, and not because of the people.  Many of the exhibits were audio video, with the video playing on wide screen TV's.  I found them distracting, so I stuck to reading the displays.  I did find the main displays interesting, though, as they dealt with the various major decisions and events relating to the Constitution.  I viewed the display counter-clockwise, which rendered them going backward in time.  It just seemed the proper way to put the Constitution in perspective for me.

The highlights of the museum, for me, were a copy of the Stone engraving of the Declaration of Independence and one of the fourteen originals of the Bill of Rights.  (By the way the 'Stone engraving' gets its name from the person who engraved the copperplate to print the copies. http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2003/fall/stone-engraving.html )

The original of the Bill of Rights was very hard to read, being faded and illuminated with low light.  It was housed behind a very thick glass in a sofa-sized stainless steel enclosure.  I leaned over to get a better look, and in doing so was reminded not to lean on or touch the stainless steel case (Ooops!)

Photographs, naturally, were not permitted of either document so you'll have to travel there to see these significant pieces of history for yourselves.

Next to the Signer's Hall, which featured an exhibit of life-sized statues of all the signers of the Constitution.

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In the second photo Alexander Hamilton stands on the extreme left.  One of the staff stands on the extreme right, in a red shirt, behind other 'signers'.  I walked over to Hamilton's statue and said in a loud whisper "Don't go the the duel!"  I could hear the staffer laugh.

 

Next we went to to the Liberty Bell exhibit.  Earlier the lines to enter were very long, but they'd shortened considerably.  The wait was worth it, though it was difficult to get pictures with all the people around the Bell.

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The Liberty Bell did have a small crack in it, and was sent out for repair.  Essentially, the firm botched the job and made it worse.  By the way, the crack seen today happened sometime around 1846, not on July 4, 1776.  A device called a 'spider' now helps the Bell hold its shape.

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My daughter noted I was the only person trying to get a photograph of the the inside of the Bell, to get a picture of the spider.  :rolleyes:

 

Our next stop was the Christ Church Cemetery, where Ben Franklin and other notables, including signers of the Declaration of Independence, were buried.   This is Ben Franklin's grave.  I don't understand why people were throwing coins on it.  :dontknow: 

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Another person buried in the cemetery was Charles Mason, who surveyed the Mason-Dixon line.

And then there was this guy...

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We walked to Betsy Ross' house, or rather where she lived when she rented part of the house.  Betsy Ross had three husbands.  Her first, John Ross, died while in service with the militia.  Her second, a sea captain, was captured by the British and died in prison.  Her last husband John Claypoole had been in prison with her second husband.  Betsy Ross wasn't a seamstress, she was an upholsterer which were two very distinct crafts in her time.

Her home:

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A replica of her shop

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Not yet done!  We walked to Franklin Square, where Ben Franklin lived.  His house and shop no longer stand, but a tenant house he built still remains.

Ben Franklin walked under the central archway, and so have I!

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The steel structure shows the outline of his shop.  Text carved into the stones underneath explain what business he conducted in each part of the shop.

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A similar frame outlines where his house stood.

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Because a road was built over the demolished house, the foundations and basement floors were well-preserved.  In the picture above you can see concrete 'shells'.  Looking down into the shells one can see the remains of his house.  The brick floor in the kitchen:

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And you could say "Ben Franklin sat here."  This was his 'privy pit'.

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Nearby a replica printing press produced copies of the Declaration:

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The day was getting along, and we'd heard that if you were lucky you might get into Independence Hall if you were in line at 5pm.  We'd tried to get tickets all day, but they'd all been snapped up.  So we trekked to Independence Hall and got in line.  We were lucky, because we were in the first group let in at 5.  When we started in the line was at least 500 feet long behind us, perhaps twice that given the way it snaked around.

This, for me, was the highlight of the trip!  First we stopped at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  Outside the windows on the left the Declaration was read for the first time publicly.

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Crossing the main hall we entered the room where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed.  The same room where George Washington, John Adams, John Hancock, James Madison - I won't name them all - worked, debated, argued, and compromised to create our nation. 

Reflect on that for a moment...

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The chair in the center is indeed the one George Washington sat in when he presided over the Convention.

We were only inside Independence Hall for about 20 minutes as the next tour was already on our heels. I lingered anyway to get some additional photos.  I found it very hard to leave, but my time there was done. 

That concluded our Philadelphia day.  Regretfully we had no time left to visit the Thaddeus Kosciuszko home - it was several blocks away and we needed to catch the train to return to my daughter's home.  I suspect I'll make a return trip to Philadelphia, though, and his home will be on the list of places to see.

 

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In 1976, my parents took us to Philadelphia for NYEve.  At midnight they moved the bell to its current home.  It rained all night.  It was cold.  We ate at a Chinese place.  It was a very cool experience to watch them move it.

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