The following year, the winner was pronounced "Miss America" in a (presumably drunken) outburst by local newspaperman Herb Test, and thus an enduring national tradition was born.
The Liberty Bell Was Destined For The Scrap Heap (until It Went On A Nationwide Publicity Tour)
Few landmarks scream "America!" louder than Philadelphia's Liberty Bell (proverbially; it's not possessed or anything). After all, it was the BONG reverberating from atop Independence Hall on July 4, 1776 which signified newfound freedom for all Americans who weren't slaves.
Jean Leon Gerome Ferris
Sorry, the other kind of bong.
Just one problem: The whole story of the Liberty Bell ringing to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence is horseshit, fabricated by a magazine writer more than 70 years later. So if the bell (actually a twice-baked and still-cracked replica of the original) never truly rang on the very first Independence Day, how did it become the unequivocal symbol of, um, independence that it is today?
Well, that didn't come about until 1835, when the abolitionist movement adopted it as their icon, largely due to the biblical inscription that encircles it: "Proclaim Liberty thro' all the Land to all the Inhabitants Thereof." In fact, it was a pamphlet published by the New York Anti-Slavery Society that gave the bell its modern name, before which it was mainly known as "that useless piece of garbage that's too goddamned heavy to lug down and melt for scrap."
Tony the Misfit/Wiki Commons
A rare moment of crack saving a community.
The newly dubbed Liberty Bell's fame grew as other movements -- from suffragettes to child labor law advocates -- also adopted it as their own, and the next thing you know, it hit the road on a veritable Libertypalooza. Kicking off in New Orleans in 1885 and wrapping up in San Diego in 1915, this 10,000-mile publicity tour asked a populace still healing from the Civil War, "Hey, you know what's great?" The answer to which, of course, was "Fucking America. Which is now represented by this damaged bell, for some reason."
While the city of Philadelphia may have lost conservation points for not recycling the one-ton paperweight, the nation had gained an irreplaceable (and also irreparable) symbol of American patriotism. And hell, is patriotism even possible without a healthy dose of revisionist history?
Orrin R.K. is a freelance journalist and pop culture writer who also does freelance research at the National Archives. His blog can be found here, and he will do the following for your money. Nathan is a Christian and says things like "Good news! Your sins are forgiven!" He is also called Treegnome, and has a hilarious website called Supertreegnome.com.
For more stunts that will only be iconic in their stupidity, check out The 5 Most Disastrous Marketing Failures of All Time and 5 Psychotic Marketing Stunts That Traumatized Their Audience.
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