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1.17.2021

Philadelphia and the Cradle of US Democracy: Visiting Independence Hall & Exploring Philly's Role in Freedom

Since 1776, Philadelphia has been at the forefront of the growth of democracy and the American way. From the dawn of our nation's founding, declared at Independence Hall, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Our nation has continually strived to become a "more perfect union" to achieve the ideals set forth in that all important document and the eventual writing of our Constitution within the city as well. If one needs a reminder of these ideals, they simply need to explore Philadelphia and see examples of every stage of our young democracy so far. 

From the dawn of American history, Philadelphia has played a leading role in the push for the achievement of those ideals that were set out by our founding fathers from Philadelphia. The city has been home to a spirit of radical freedom, laid out right from the beginning of the city itself, with the radical and peaceful ideals of William Penn and his Quaker brethren. Pushback against those radical ideals has also shown itself within the city, but in the end, freedom has always seemed to cut through and find a way. Our nation's first black Christian denomination and church, Mother Bethel AME, was founded in this city, in the same year as the writing of the Constitution, and 78 years before the end of the institution of slavery. The seeds of abolition began in the city upon its creation, with groups of the Quakers being amongst the first to denounce it. The Underground Railroad and the abolition movement within this country is deeply rooted within the city. The Civil Rights movement roots itself within the city as well, with countless Civil Rights advocates based out of the city, and team efforts within the city including critical coordination with Martin Luther King Jr. through all of his efforts. 

Philly's Navy Yard Mothballed Ship Fleet

Citizens of the city have participated in every war the country has ever fought, and the shipyards and ports in Philadelphia helped power the country to victory in World War I and World War II. 

On our most recent visit, we spent the night at the Hotel Monaco, (skyscraper to the left in this shot) with views right out at beautiful Independence Hall. There is something just incredible about walking around Old City late at night, with hardly anyone around. It is a great way to quietly reflect upon the ideals of this nation that were embarked upon from this very spot. 
Our view for the night. You can even hear the hourly chimes from the bell tower of Independence Hall. 

CeCe taking in the sights of Independence Hall

The Declaration of Independence was written specifically with the concept of all people being created equal, and the country has steadily moved towards governing that takes that truth into account. Spending time within the Old City is a tremendous reminder of all of the sacrifice that has gone into creating and preserving a union that is for the people and by the people, through thick and thin, and how the system of a government by the people has prevailed, through all of the tough times throughout this nation's history. We can look to the words of our founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as the benchmark towards accomplishing the goals of creating a more equitable, just, and inclusive union in which all members of society can flourish.

Today, pretty much every cultural group in the country is represented within Philadelphia, and a wonderful illustration of this can be seen with all of the cultural vendors just up the street from Independence Hall at Reading Terminal Market. Everything that has come together to create this nation is represented in this city, a perfect cross-section of the tapestry of this nation. 

Independence Hall was built to be a state house for Pennsylvania, with construction taking place between 1732 and 1753. Two blocks away, the first Continental Congress assembled at Carpenters' Hall in 1774. Then the Second Continental Congress convened at Independence Hall from 1775-1783. During that time, the Declaration of Independence was written nearby and finalized and signed in the building, and the American Revolution was fought. Then in 1787, the Constitutional Convention convened and wrote the bedrock of which our democratic system was built upon, the United States Constitution. Lincoln's  It would be tough to find a place that has been more historically consequential than this location. Let the freedom and liberty initiated at this site ring forever as we work to fulfill the ideals that were laid out in this location. You can just feel the gravity of what occurred here and reflect on it as you walk around the grounds and tour the buildings at Independence Mall and Independence National Historic Park. 

No matter how difficult things may seem right now, all we have to do is sit and reflect on the ideals that this country was founded upon, and the struggles of the past to look forward to how we can come together once again, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. We need to move to a point of unity and look to the concepts of the visionaries that set us off on the voyage of democracy and engage in healthy debate when there are disagreements. The roadmap to unity is there and set out by our founding fathers whose ideas created a challenge for our nation to tackle over centuries. Their immortal words of liberty and freedom need to guide us along this journey. Petty differences and arguments should not divide us in achieving the democratic ideals that were so eloquently laid out in 1776 and 1789 in Philadelphia. 





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