Seneca Falls unveils Justice Bell replica in honor of women’s right to vote
It’s a bell that rang out in 1920 when the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote was ratified.
It's called the Justice Bell, and the National Women’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday celebrated the unveiling of its replica in Seneca Falls.
“Just as the Liberty Bell is an enduring symbol of the American struggle for freedom, the Justice Bell is the struggle for women’s equality,” said Menzo Case, CEO of Generations Bank, which provided funding for the project.
The half-sized replica is displayed temporarily outside of the Seneca Knitting Mill, which overlooks the chapel where the first women’s rights convention took place in 1848.
There, two documents were adopted, including the declaration of sentiments that outlines the desired rights of female citizens in the U.S.
“It took another 72 years and a tremendous amount of work by women and their allies to gain the support needed to bring this issue to the national forefront,” said Jennifer Gabriel, executive director of the Women’s Hall of Fame.
“Much of the work that was done was on the local level to raise awareness of this important issue.”
The original bell was commissioned in 1915 by Katharine Wentworth Ruschenberger, who was one of 70,000 members of the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association. It was then mounted on the bed of a pickup truck that traveled 5,000 miles to raise awareness of the suffrage movement.
During that journey, the clapper that swings inside the bell was chained, to prevent the bell from ringing, symbolizing the silence of women who did not have the right to vote.
The original bell is on display at Washington Memorial Chapel in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Both the original and the replica are lasting reminders of the fight for equal rights, Gabriel said.