Texas A&M Recognizes Honor Of Being Home To State’s Liberty Bell Replica
One of Texas A&M’s most popular attractions is the Texas Liberty Bell, which hangs in the rotunda of the Academic Building. It’s one of 55 full-size U.S. Treasury Liberty Bells given as gifts to U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia in 1950 to ring on patriotic occasions.
The bell was presented to Texas A&M on July 5, 1950 by Texas Gov. Allan Shivers, who in choosing the university parted ways with most states, which had their bells placed in state capitols.
“The campus of Texas A&M College is a logical depository for this relic,” Shivers said at a ceremony at The Grove, a gathering place on campus at the time, where Cain Garage stands now. “In that statement lies no reflection upon the rest of our colleges and public institutions that are fully worthy of such consideration. But Texas A&M, with its military background, is particularly deserving.”
It is said Shivers also stated, “No one has suffered more than the Aggies, so we will give it to them.”
And in fact, scores of Aggies had fought and died in the two World Wars by the time the bell came to campus. The Texas Historical Commission states, “More than 2,200 Aggies served [in WWI], with at least 62 making the supreme sacrifice from a dedicated community of students, faculty and citizens during a time of war.” In 1918, almost half of the university’s students were serving in the military, more than any other college or service academy. In March 2022, the university announced the discovery of 15 additional Aggies killed in the First World War.
In World War II, more than 20,000 Aggies fought – over 14,000 as officers – with seven receiving Congressional Medals of Honor, and 953 paying the ultimate price.
Shivers said the bell should serve as an incentive to guard, defend and extend the freedoms Americans cherish. “It has been truthfully said that the fight for freedom never ends,” he said. “In wars and between wars, the fight goes on against foes from without and within. This liberty bell is a symbol of our faith in the cause for which we fight. Its clear tone will remind us that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
Accepting the bell on behalf of A&M was President Marion T. Harrington, himself an Aggie, class of 1922 and the first former student to hold the office. “As a loyal A&M man, naturally I feel that Gov. Shivers has made a wise choice in selecting A&M College as a location for the bell for many other schools and cities requested it,” he told the crowd that day. “We feel that this college and its loyal sons have done much to preserve and defend our liberty, in war and peace.”
The Aggies, Harrington vowed, would “preserve and protect this great heritage.”
The one-ton Texas Liberty Bell and its sisters across the nation were created by Paccard Foundry of Annency-le-Vieux, France, as part of the “Save For Your Independence” savings bond drive held in the summer of 1950, sponsored by the Treasury Department.
The original Liberty Bell resides in Liberty Bell Center, across from Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and bears the famous inscription, “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof.” Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly Isaac Norris ordered the bell for the state house tower in 1751 from the Whitechapel Foundry in London. It cracked on the first ring and was subsequently remade by two Philadelphia foundry workers, John Pass and John Stow.
According to the National Park Service, no one knows how the bell again was cracked, but it’s guessed a narrow split developed in the early 1840s after nearly 90 years of use. The wide crack that can be seen today is actually a result of a failed job at repair that caused a second crack to develop, rendering the bell silent forever.