Lincoln Inaugural Bible Washington Reviews
Viewing Lincoln's Inaugural Bible Jan 21, 2009
When Barack Obama took the Oath of Office as 44th President of the United States, he placed his hand on the same Bible that Abraham Lincoln used at his inauguration ceremony in 1861. The Lincoln Inaugural Bible, as it is known, is in the Rare Books collection of the Library of Congress. On the day following President Obama’s inauguration, the Bible was briefly placed on display. I was fortunate to be able to see the historic volume in person.
The Lincoln Inaugural Bible is a commercially printed Bible, a King James version published in 1853 by Oxford University Press. It’s not a large volume at 15 cm x 10 cm. The Bible was probably a copy held by the Supreme Court for such purposes. Not on view was the 1861 inside inscription by William Carroll, Clerk of the Supreme Court, attesting that the Bible was used by Lincoln. This Bible carries great historical significance. At the Lincoln inauguration, in March 1861, seven states had already seceded and the Oath of Office was administered by Chief Justice Roger Taney, author of the Dred Scott Decision declaring a slave was mere property.
A special container, also on display, had been made for the Bible for its use in the 2009 inauguration ceremony. (Press photos show Mrs. Obama holding the red container during the ceremony and Mr. Obama with his left hand on the Bible. The Library had requested the fragile Bible not be opened.) The story of the Bible in the Lincoln inauguration is told in an inscription inside the box while an inscription on the top of the container tells of its use in 2009.
The Library of Congress displays the Lincoln Inaugural Bible from time to time. (It is to be included in a traveling exhibit celebrating the Lincoln Bicentennial in 2009.)
Part of the Inside Washington, DC travel blog
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