Across the street from the Allentown Museum of Art is the subject building and sight. In many respects, the shrine is even more significant than the real thing 50 miles south. The pioneers recognized the importance of symbolism to our cause. Initially and continually, the war was about money. The colonies objected to paying taxes to the Mother Country across the Atlantic. Thomas Jefferson, with input from John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, elevated it to a moral crusade in the Declaration of Independence. Of course, the Revolutionary War was not the simple story of the the righteous colonists versus oppressive Great Britain. Nevertheless, a territory did want self determination. As indicated, a symbol of this was so important that the colonists put it on a flatbed wagon and probably drove the oxen to Allentown. This was a difficult and dangerous journey.
From the Mural in the Hotel Bethlehem
In September 1777, the Bell which heralded the Colonists Freedom arrived in Bethlehem en route to Allentown to secured in the Zion Reformed Church .
After Washington‘s defeat at the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, the revolutionary capital of Philadelphia was defenseless, and the city prepared for what was seen as an inevitable British attack on the city. The Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ordered that eleven bells, including the State House bell and the bells from Christ Church and St. Peter’s Church, be taken down and removed from the city to prevent the British, who might melt the bells down to cast into cannons, from taking possession of them. A train of over 700 wagons, guarded by 200 cavalry from North Carolina and Virginia and under the command of Colonel Thomas Polk of the 4th Regiment North Carolina Continental Line, left Philadelphia for Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in the Lehigh Valley. Hidden in the manure and hay were the bells, and hidden in the wagon of Northampton County militia private John Jacob Mickley was the State House bell. On September 18, the entourage and armed escort arrived in Richland Township (present-day Quakertown, Pennsylvania). On September 23, the bishop of the Moravian Church in Bethlehem reported that the wagons had arrived, and all bells except the State House bell had been moved to Northampton-Towne (present-day Allentown, Pennsylvania). The following day, the State House bell was transferred to the wagon of Frederick Leaser and taken to the historic Zion’s Reformed Church in center city Allentown, where it was stored (along with the other bells), under the floorboards. On September 26, British forces marched into Philadelphia, unopposed, and occupied the city. The bell was restored to Philadelphia in June 1778, after the end of the British occupation.