Nova Scotia Road Trip! - 2002

P HILADELPHIA , PA I NDEPENDENCE H ALL N ATIONAL H ISTORICAL P ARK Day 4 - We gave in & enjoyed a McDonald ’ s breakfast before leaving our cramped Motel 6 in New Castle, Delaware around 8 to head to Philadelphia. We want to see the “ Cradle of our Country ’ s Birth and Infancy ” up close and personal. That meant visiting Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and Valley Forge. We got to the center of the city about 8:45 AM to find that the area is pretty much sealed off with security — National Park Service patrol cars, security check points, concrete bunkers, etc. However, the rangers were friendly and helpful — so we quickly found our way to the Visitor Center to get our tickets for the Independence Hall National Historical Park visit. The security checkpoint was in a temporary trailer and there were six large Rangers manning it. We passed without incident even though both Pat and Kay had Swiss Army knives. They told Pat to keep hers at the bottom of her fanny pack and they never saw Kay ’ s. How reassuring is that? Then we crossed the street and entered the “ backyard ” of the Independence Hall complex (consisting of the Hall itself, the old city hall, and the Congress building). The ranger took us in to see the insides of the building which had been built originally to serve as the Pennsylvania State House. It served as the home of the Continental Congresses and then later as the Congress of the infant USA (1790-1800). We entered the Supreme Court chambers first where the ranger told us about the personal freedoms which had been guaranteed to the colonists (or so they thought) as citizens of Great Britain. As the conflicts between the colonists and the crown increased, these freedoms were abridged and infringed upon. These tensions were part of the slow rolling towards the Declaration of Independence and war between the colonies and the mother country. Next, we went across the hall to the Assembly Room where the delegates from the states met to debate how to seek redress for their wrongs and then how to write a Declaration of Independence which could be endorsed by the states and serve notice to Great Britain that the colonists were serious. Our ranger was very good at presenting the facts concisely and yet with drama and suspense. Later we were allowed to go in the Congress Building to see the first House of Representatives and, upstairs, the first Senate Rooms. Much smaller than the Chambers in Washington, they were ample for the legislators of that period. As in Washington, the House is plainer than the Senate. It was stunning to realize that we were looking at the actual rooms, the actual chairs, and tables and desks that the Founding Fathers occupied during their revolutionary debates. John Hancock really sat at the desk on the elevated podium and presided over the disputatious delegates. Ben Franklin actually sat in that chair at the Pennsylvania table. Later at the Congress where the Constitution was written, George Washington presided. Though most of the delegates were different from the ones who wrote the Declaration of Independence, Ben Franklin was at both. He sat closer to the railing but

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