+ About Lincoln’s (and Obama’s) Swearing-In Bible

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Barack Obama has identified Lincoln as a model in action and words, often quoting him in speeches.

He announced his candidacy in Springfield Illinois, and the president-elect and his family will follow Lincoln’s train ride into Washington from Philadelphia for the inauguration on January 20.

It has now been announced that he will be sworn into office with the very same Bible that Lincoln used for his first inauguration in 1861.

It will be the first time an incoming president has used Lincoln’s Bible, which is part of the collection at the Library of Congress. 

New presidents are not required to be sworn in on a Bible, but most have done so.  Many use their own family Bibles.

And the Bible on which Lincoln was sworn in was not his own personal Bible.  That one was still boxed and en route from Springfield to Washington, and would arrive later with all the family belongings.

So the clerk of the Supreme Court, William Thomas Carroll, bought a special Bible for Lincoln’s swearing-in ceremony on March 4, 1861.

The 1,280-page Bible was published in 1853 by the Oxford University Press.  It is bound in burgundy velvet and its edges are heavily gilded.  On the cover is a shield of gold wash over white metal, with the words “Holy Bible” chased into it.

It has been annotated in the back:

I, William Thomas Carroll, clerk of the said court do hereby certify that the preceding copy of the Holy Bible is that upon which the Honble. R.B. Taney, Chief Justice of the said Court, administered to His Excellency, Abraham Lincoln, the oath of office as President of the United States…

… along with the seal of the Supreme Court.

source: Katharine Q Seelye note in the NY Times on 12/24/08.   www.nytimes.com

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards   614-579-6021   or email   aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

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