“The Port is Near, the Bells I Hear, the People all Exulting”

The sound of bells in the city of Charleston announced secession in December 1860. The tolling of bells served as a rallying point for Americans throughout the war. Soldiers marched off from their homes and some returned for final burial to the sound of bells. Bells marked important victories and the arrival of a slain president on his journey home.

Now the National Park Service wants to mark the end of the Civil War sesquicentennial with the ringing of bells throughout the nation.

In conjunction with a major event at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, the National Park Service and its partners invite communities across the nation to join in this commemoration. The bells will ring first at Appomattox at 3:00 p.m. on April 9, 2015. The ringing will coincide with the moment the historic meeting between Grant and Lee in the McLean House at Appomattox Court House ended. While Lee’s surrender did not end the Civil War, the act is seen by most Americans as the symbolic end of four years of bloodshed.

I can’t think of a more appropriate way to mark the 150th anniversary of Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox (which all but assured that our Union would be preserved) and the end of the sesquicentennial.

Churches throughout the North celebrated the end of the war with the ringing of church bells. One hundred and fifty years later Americans throughout the nation have an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the end of the war and its continued legacy. It is very likely that many older towns will use the same bells that announced the end of the war beginning on April 9, 1865.

Once again, a tip of the hat to our National Park Service.

9 comments… add one
  • Andy Hall Feb 25, 2015

    I chafe at calling Appomattox the “end of the war,” but fighting that narrative is probably a lost cause. A nation-wide bell-ringing is a great idea nonetheless. And there’s a bell on an old Confederate officer’s property I know of that will do nicely.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 25, 2015

      There are a number of ways to carve it up, but there is enough evidence to suggest that many Americans believed that Lee’s surrender signaled the end of the war.

      And there’s a bell on an old Confederate officer’s property I know of that will do nicely.

      Very fitting indeed.

      • Boyd Harris Feb 26, 2015

        Agreed. Most contemporaries at the time considered Lee’s surrender the end of the war. That being said, every park ranger at Appomattox always couched the interpretation of Lee’s surrender with further information on the other surrenders in the war. When I worked there, we even had a board in the McLean House that showed all the other surrenders on a map. It often provoked some great questions from visitors and allowed for a better understanding on how the Civil War ended.

        PS: The board even showed where Jo Shelby escaped into Mexico. That always got a comment or two from visitors.

  • Jimmy Dick Feb 25, 2015

    The bells should definitely be ringing in Virginia, particularly on pieces of property where symbols of ignorance, tyranny, and oppression are displayed on flagpoles with absolutely no historical value or explanation of them at all.

    • Mudge Feb 26, 2015

      Well, I guess that puts “PAID” pn Lincoln’t directive to let them down easy and Grant’s view that we are all countrymen.

    • Jessie Alan Sanford Feb 26, 2015

      Jimmy
      All that hate is going to eat you alive IMHO.

      • Jimmy Dick Feb 26, 2015

        Don’t tell me. Tell the idiots who wave the flag of ignorance around.

  • Msb Feb 25, 2015

    What a lovely idea. I wish I could hear it.

  • Mr Everett Feb 26, 2015

    This is a truly dreadful idea. It would be a little like bell ringing in Beijing to celebrate the Tiananmen Massacre.

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