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Pennsylvania State Parks

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Historical Places in Pennsylvania

Independence Hall in Philadelphia

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Independence Hall is definitely a sacred place in the United States. In 1776, 56 delegates to the Second Continental Congress met in this red-brick Georgian edifice (originally called the Pennsylvania State House; renamed Independence Hall in the 1820s) and published an explosive declaration that rocked both sides of the Atlantic: the Declaration of Independence.

That fact alone would have ensured the State House’s place in history, but 11 years later, another convention convened there to discuss the future of their nation. The United States Constitution is the outcome of months of debate.

The League to Enforce Peace, a forerunner of the United Nations, was established in Independence Hall. It was here here that George Washington was offered leadership of the Continental Army. Not surprisingly, then, it has become a mecca for students of democracies in the modern era.

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The silver inkstand used to sign the Declaration of Independence sits on a desk in the Assembly Room, and behind it is the Rising Sun Chair, in which George Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention.

Only those things date back to the historic period of independence; the rest of the furniture was recreated to reflect how it would have looked during the meetings.

Washington had ordered that the windows be kept sealed during the hot summer sessions so that no one could eavesdrop on the debates, adding to the already tense environment created by the delegates as they drafted the foundation for a brand new country. To lighten the mood, Benjamin Franklin kept trying to trip other delegates in the aisle from his seat.

The other room on the tours, which are the only way to get into the building, is where the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania used to be. This room is also set up as it was in the early years of the country. But when you go back outside, don’t forget to look around. Independence National Park has a lot of other historic buildings and monuments. These include Congress Hall, the first home of the US Congress, the cracked Liberty Bell, which stories say rang to celebrate independence (though this may not be true), and a couple dozen other buildings and monuments.

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