8th September 1752

How well do you know your history? Confining your answers to the histories of Great Britain and the United States, can you say what happened on Friday 8th September 1752?

The possible answers:
1. The Liberty Bell was to delivered to Philadelphia on September 8th 1752. Once placed in the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House (now renamed Independence Hall), the bell today is located in the Liberty Bell Center in Independence National Heritage Park. The bell was commissioned in 1752 by the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly from the London firm of Lester and Pack (later known as the Whitechapel Bell Foundry). The Liberty Bell is an iconic symbol of American independence. The bell first cracked when rung after its arrival in Philadelphia, and was twice recast by local workmen, John Pass and John Stow, whose last names appear on the bell. In its early years, the bell was used to summon lawmakers to legislative sessions and to alert citizens about public meetings and proclamations. After American independence was secured, the bell fell into relative obscurity until, in the 1830s, the bell was adopted as a symbol by abolitionist societies, who dubbed it the “Liberty Bell”.

2. On the 8th September 1752, Britain declared war on France to start the Seven Years War which actually lasted nine years and is considered to have been the very first global war. It involved every European great power of the time and spanned five continents, affecting Europe, the Americas, West Africa, South Asia, and the Philippines. The conflict split Europe into two coalitions: one was led by the Kingdom of Great Britain and included the Kingdom of Prussia, the Kingdom of Portugal, the Electorate of Brunswick-Luneburg and other small German states; while the other was led by the Kingdom of France and included the Austrian-led Holy Roman Empire, the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Spain, and the Swedish Empire. However, French efforts ended in failure when the Anglo-Prussian coalition prevailed, and Britain’s rise as among the world’s predominant powers destroyed France’s supremacy in Europe, thus altering the European balance of power.

3. On Tuesday, 8th September 1752, absolutely nothing happened. The day did not exist! In the year of 1752 much of the Protestant world altered their calendars from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar thereby apparently losing eleven days. One of which was Friday, 8th September. In that year Wednesday, 2nd September was followed by Thursday, 14th September of that year. Apart from riots from the people demanding their eleven days back again there were more significant results of the change. Lady Day (25th March) was considered New Year;s Day from 1155 until 1752. It was also the beginning of the tax year which then became 5th April. A skipped leap year in 1800 changed the start of the British tax year to 6th April.

The correct answer:
The Liberty Bell was delivered in September 1752 — but on the 1st, not the 8th.
Similarly the Seven Years War was declared between England and France in 1757, not 1752, while the remainder of the facts are true.
This leaves us with the intriguing answer of ‘Absolutely Nothing’ because in Great Britain and the United States the day did not exist. The fact of the answer are all correct except the date of the question.

Curiously there was another date with no news in the UK — April 18th 1930. The radio news in those days relied largely on official announcements such as advice to post early for Christmas, and warnings about heavy traffic. On the evening before Good Friday, the Home Office was desperate to deny a newspaper account of an interview with the home secretary. It was aware that no newspapers would be published over Easter so it contacted the BBC — to ensure the denial was included in the evening radio news.
Within 24 hours, however, it seems the flood of news — official or otherwise — had dried up. Listeners who tuned in to hear the bulletin on Good Friday itself were informed: “There is no news.” The rest of the time normally allotted to the news bulletin was replaced by piano music. Don’t forget that in those days back then news announcers were anonymous, and they wore dinner jackets to work. This was out of respect for the music and drama performers, who had to dress up to entertain in the evening even though it was a radio broadcast and therefore the players were unseen by the audience. These were very formal times. The majority of a cinema audience would stand for the National Anthem at the end of the film. No respectable man would consider entering a church without a tie and his best clothes, ladies wore long gloves reaching to the elbows, gloves were an essential fashion accessory but times — they are a’changing — and not alwayys for the better!

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Adrian Arnold

Adrian Arnold

Retired veterinary surgeon now a collector of trivia. Married to a wonderful wife, four children and four grandchildren. Author of A Veterinary Life on Amazon.