On September 24, 1777, Mecklenburg County resident Thomas Polk arrived safely in Allentown, Pa., after escorting the Liberty Bell there from Philadelphia.
Born in Pennsylvania, Polk and his family moved to Anson County, before becoming one of the first settlers of Mecklenburg County, and promoting the establishment of Charlotte. He became a prosperous planter and was active in the local and state political scenes. As the American Revolution began to come into full swing, Polk was appointed colonel of a regiment of North Carolina militia. He fought at Brandywine and spent a harsh winter at Valley Forge.
As invading British forces approached Philadelphia in 1777, Polk was tasked with escorting some important items out of the city to avoid capture. The city’s bells—including what was then called the State House Bell and is now known as the Liberty Bell—were included among Polk’s precious cargo so they wouldn’t be melted down by the British to make cannon balls.
After saving what is now one of our nation’s most precious artifacts, Polk continued a successful military career, served on the Council of State and hosted George Washington during his southern tour. He died at his Charlotte home in 1794.
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