Independence: The Creation of a National Park

Independence: The Creation of a National Park

Independence: The Creation of a National Park

Independence: The Creation of a National Park

Synopsis

Carefully researched and fully documented,Independencechronicles the history of the "cradle of liberty" that is Independence National Historical Park, the historical site most closely connected with the nation's founding. Constance M. Greiff illustrates how the park was shaped by national events and conditions in Philadelphia, change and growth within the National Park Service, and the interpersonal and political struggles among the key people involved in the park's development. She traces the process by which the participants arrived at the ideas underpinning the park's creation and development, conflicting views about the purpose and scope of the park, and the resolution of those conflicts. Published with assistance from the Independence Hall Association, the National Park Service, and the Eastern National Parks and Monument Association.

Excerpt

F or Americans -- indeed, for all people -- there are no more potent symbols of individual freedom than Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Since 1951 this building and this long-silent tocsin have been maintained by the American people as part of Independence National Historical Park. The park includes three square blocks in the City of Philadelphia where the dream of a free country of independent citizens became fact. Here were written the two documents -- the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution -- on which the foundations of our country rest. Here, from 1790 to 1800, when Philadelphia was the nation's capital, the principle of governance based on the rights of individual citizens was first tested. Through a series of events, that in retrospect seem almost miraculous, many of the buildings in which these events took place were preserved. Through years of devotion and effort on the part of the City of Philadelphia, the National Park Service, and countless private citizens, these places have been restored for the enjoyment and enlightenment of the millions who come to Independence.

Independence National Historical Park is many things to many people. It is, of course, as it was intended to be, a national shrine. The events that took place here two centuries ago, and the buildings and objects associated with them, are what attract visitors from every state in the union and almost every country around the globe. This place where our nation began arouses deep feelings. The attentive silence of the crowds in the Assembly Room is a testament to this emotion. So is the awe on the faces of children as they touch the Liberty Bell. But Independence is more than an object of reverence. It is also a place to be reminded of the ideals that formed the basis for the founding of the United States, and on which its continued survival depends. And as they tour the park, visitors are made aware that the formation of this nation was the work of men, imperfect like themselves, who transcended their faults and foibles to create an enduring democracy, the oldest in the world and a model for free men everywhere.

The purpose of Independence is serious, but the mood in the park is not necessarily solemn. Independence can be the setting for ceremony, or for protest, or for celebration. It is a site that often appears on the itineraries of visiting heads of state and other dignitaries. With luck, the weather on the day of their visit will be fine, and the flags on Independence Mall will be . . .

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