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Philadelphia - Independence Hall

In the summer of 1776, the Second Continental Congress gathered in Independence Hall to approve the Declaration of Independence, setting forth freedom from Britain and a new United States of America. After the Revolutionary War, in spring 1787 once again delegates assembled to write a new framework for government – the Constitution. In Independence Hall, kids will see where two of the most important documents in US history were created, in a democratic process.
Independence Hall Photo Album
Along with Independence Hall, visit the Great Exhibitions Exhibit, Congress Hall, and relax in benches and shade of Independence Square.
    Independence Hall
      In front of Independence Hall check out the statue of George Washington, commander in chief during the Revolutionary War and first president of the United States. Look up to the steeple – in the 18th century, the Liberty Bell rang out to gather people for announcements.
      For tickets and more info, see tips for visiting Independence Hall below.
    The Assembly Room is set up as it was in summer 1776, when 56 delegates from the thirteen colonies met to decide whether to become independent from Britain. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, delegates unanimously approved it, and on July 4, the United States of America became a new nation.
      In spring 1787, the Constitutional Convention met again the Assembly Room, to write a new framework of government. The result is the Constitution of the United States, oldest written constitution for a unified country in the world. George Washington presided over the delegates, and sat in the "rising sun" chair, behind the table in the center. This is the original chair used at the time, decorated with a sun symbol and liberty cap.
      The Assembly Room continues to symbolize American ideas and ideals. When the Marquis de Lafayette returned to the United States in 1824, he was welcomed in this room. President Lincoln, on his way to his inauguration in Washington DC, declared he would give up his life rather than the ideals of the Declaration of Independence.
  Great Essentials Exhibit – Plan to come early, before going on the tour, so kids can see this exhibit with original copies of the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, Constitution of the United States, and the shiny silver inkwell probably used for signing the historic documents.
    Independence Square – Today this is a quiet, shady place with benches to wait for your tour, but before the American Revolution began, people protested, soldiers marched and drilled in this yard.
      On July 8, 1776, a crowd gathered in the square, the Declaration of Independence was read aloud. After hearing the announcement, the crowd took down a wooden coat of arms of King George III in the courtroom, and burned it in a bonfire.
      Every July 8 in the square is a re-enactment of the public reading of the Declaration of Independence.
  Congress Hall – Take a tour of Congress Hall, where the Senate and House of Representatives first met while, Philadelphia was the new nation's capitol. Downstairs is the room for the House, the Senate met in a smaller room upstairs. On the Senate room floor is a rug with eagle with thirteen stripes, surrounded by symbols of the each of the states.
      When you walk upstairs, this is an original staircase – kids can follow George Washington's footsteps (he was inaugurated for his second term as president in Congress Hall).
    Tips for visiting Independence Hall
      It's free to visit Independence Hall, but March to December the tour requires a ticket with date and time (January and February not necessary). Highly recommended, reserve tickets online in advance. In Independence Visitor Center, a limited number of tour tickets are available for same day entry, come at 8:30am (tickets are usually gone by 8:45am).
      Online reservations are not a ticket, it only guarantees tour day and time. On the day of your tour, go to "Will Call" in Independence Visitor Center to pick up the paper tickets. Do this at least 1 hour before your tour time.
      Entrance to Independence Hall is through a security line which starts on the east side (building complex is fenced off from the street). Arrive at least at least 30 minutes before of your timed entry, to allow plenty of time to go through security screening, and don't be late, tours run on a strict time table. Once through security, there are no restrooms.
      Visit the Great Essentials Exhibit, before taking the tour of Independence Hall. After seeing the original documents of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, kids can imagine sitting in the Assembly Room – are you the writer of these documents, or a signer, deciding whether to approve or disapprove historic decisions that shaped a new nation?
      Congress Hall tours are every 20 minutes, and no tickets are necessary. If you're not able to get tour tickets for Independence Hall, visit Congress Hall instead, best with older kids.
kids bookspennsylvania

History of the Declaration of Independence, from Thomas Jefferson, sitting in a house in Philadelphia, writing this historic declaration of freedom from Great Britain, debate by the Continental Congress, signers of the document, with historical illustrations. (Chapter book)



Meet Thomas Jefferson, primary author of the Declaration of Independence, also third president of the United States, Vice President, Secretary of State, scientist, musician, farmer, great reader (his books are beginning of the Library of Congress). (Picture book)

Also, chapter book: Who Was Thomas Jefferson?


The United States Constitution
Nadja Baer, Nathan Lueth

Graphic novel adaptation of the Constitution, which defines the United States government with three separate branches and powers. Kids can find out about founding fathers that created this document in Philadelphia 1787, and read the original text in an entertaining and informative context. (Graphic novel)


More books on Philadelphia pages
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