LEWISTON - When purported scoundrels swiped the territorial seal from Lewiston in 1865, they absconded with more than the city's status as Idaho's seat of government, according to Terry and Betty Clack.
They also misappropriated the city's future right to a replica of Philadelphia's famed Liberty Bell.
"We feel like since Lewiston was the first territorial capital, it would be right for us to have a replica like the current capitol does," Terry Clack said.
To promote its Liberty Bell Savings Bond program in 1950, the U.S. Treasury commissioned 55 copies of the iconic cracked bell with its inscription from Leviticus: "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." Each state and territory received a bell. Many are still displayed outside state capitol buildings, including Idaho's.
The idea to bring a replica to Lewiston mushroomed after some members of the Lewis and Clark Tea Party Patriots envisioned creating their own replica out of papier-mache as a symbol of freedom at their meetings.
"Then it grew from there," Terry Clack said.
The goal now is a replica cast by the same company that created the Treasury bells. The Clacks are now searching for members to fill out a committee to raise funds and find grants to cover the $73,000 cost for a full-size replica, Betty Clack said.
"That includes shipping," she said.
Christoph Paccard, a South Carolina foundry, would create the 2,080-pound bell using 78 percent pure red copper and 22 percent virgin tin, according to its website. It won't supply the necessary stand to hold the bell, however, so Betty Clack said that would be an additional expense. The committee would also have to decide how to secure the bell from vandals and unauthorized ringing.
Even though the project has its roots in a conservative group, Terry Clack said the committee will be nonpartisan, and people of all political stripes are welcome to join.