December 23rd, 2008
08:09 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama to take oath of office using Lincoln Bible

Obama will be the first president since Lincoln's first term to be sworn in using the Lincoln Bible.
Obama will be the first president since Lincoln's first term to be sworn in using the Lincoln Bible.

The Obama transition team announced Tuesday morning that the president-elect would be sworn in with the Lincoln Bible, used by 16th president when taking the oath of office in 1861 (Full statement released Tuesday follows):

"Washington, D.C. – On January 20th, President-elect Barack Obama will take the oath of office using the same Bible upon which President Lincoln was sworn in at his first inauguration. The Bible is currently part of the collections of the Library of Congress. Though there is no constitutional requirement for the use of a Bible during the swearing-in, Presidents have traditionally used Bibles for the ceremony, choosing a volume with personal or historical significance. President-elect Obama will be the first President sworn in using the Lincoln Bible since its initial use in 1861.

'President-elect Obama is deeply honored that the Library of Congress has made the Lincoln Bible available for use during his swearing-in,' said Presidential Inaugural Committee Executive Director Emmett Beliveau. 'The President-elect is committed to holding an Inauguration that celebrates America's unity, and the use of this historic Bible will provide a powerful connection to our common past and common heritage.' "

"The Lincoln Bible will be available for a press viewing between 11:00 AM and Noon today in the Members' Room on the first floor of the Library of Congress' Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First St. S.E. in Washington, D.C. Video and still cameras are permitted. Media should allow 10-15 minutes to clear security at the First Street entrance to the Jefferson Building. Clark Evans, who heads the Reference Services Section of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress, will also be available at that time to answer questions about the Lincoln Bible and the Library. High-resolution photographs of the Bible are also available upon request. RSVP is not required. Please contact the PIC Communications Office with questions.

The Bible was originally purchased by William Thomas Carroll, Clerk of the Supreme Court, for use during Lincoln's swearing-in ceremony on March 4, 1861. The Lincoln family Bible, which is also in the Library of Congress's collection, was unavailable for the ceremony because it was packed away with the First Family's belongings, still en route from Springfield, IL, to their new home at the White House.

The Bible itself is bound in burgundy velvet with a gold-washed white metal rim around the three outside edges of both covers. All its edges are heavily gilded. In the center of the top cover is a shield of gold wash over white metal with the words 'Holy Bible' chased into it. The book is 15 cm long, 10 cm wide, and 4.5 cm deep when closed. The 1,280-page Bible was published in 1853 by the Oxford University Press.

Annotated in the back of the volume, along with the Seal of the Supreme Court, is the following: '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 ...'

The Lincoln Inaugural Bible will be on display at the Library of Congress February 12th to May 9th, 2009, as part of an exhibition titled "With Malice Toward None: The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition." The exhibit will then travel to five other American cities. The Library is planning several other events and programming in commemoration of the bicentennial of the birth of the nation's 16th president, who was born on February 12th, 1809.

On March 4, 2009, the 147th anniversary of Lincoln's first inauguration, the Library of Congress will also be convening an all-day symposium with several renowned Lincoln scholars."

soundoff (140 Responses)
  1. Tom D

    Please make sure this goes in an e-mail that you circulate to all your friends. The Repubs will circulate the old Koran e-mail again...we know that.

    December 23, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  2. A Sousley

    Oh my....guess that will hurt some of the people who keep yelling he is a Muslim, because he will not be using a Koran to be sworn in on. Now what will they do.

    That is neat. I am glad to see him do it this way.

    December 23, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  3. Stephen, Missouri

    I have no doubt that his will be a great Precidency. To my collegues on the left, we trusted Obama to be President with the help of many other groups of Americans, let him govern in the best way possible. I fulle respect PE judgenent and I know he will be wonderful. So let's join in and make this country great again.

    We can judge PE years from now and see where we stand. I know PE is acutely aware of history and he is making his a historical precidency. If he is another Lincoln, we will overcome all the problems we have.

    December 23, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  4. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

    GOD HELP US!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 23, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  5. indy

    President Barack Hussein Obama the 44th POTUS, from the emancipation proclamation freeing the slaves to this historic event. Using Abe Lincoln's Bible shows how far we have come as a country.

    December 23, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  6. reader

    "The Bible was originally purchased by William Thomas Carroll, Clerk of the Supreme Court, for use during Lincoln's swearing-in ceremony on March 4, 1861. ""The Lincoln family Bible, which is also in the Library of Congress's collection, was unavailable for the ceremony because it was packed away with the First Family's belongings, still en route from Springfield, IL, to their new home at the White House." ""

    Second sentence of the above makes no sense. Why is the Lincoln family Bible packed away with the First Families belongings? I thought it was in the Library of Congress?????

    Pay ATTENTION!

    December 23, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  7. reader

    Never Mind responding to the above.

    December 23, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  8. Connecticut For Lieberman Party

    Is the Lincoln Bible a Koran? I hear from my conservative friends that Obama is going to swear in on a Koran because he's a secret Muslim because his middle name is Hussein, like an arab or something.

    December 23, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  9. BOJ Jr From Raleigh

    God Bless you Mr.President-Elect and may God's speed be with you always.

    December 23, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  10. Art

    I would have expected nothing less.

    December 23, 2008 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  11. Brian from Fort Mill, SC

    I wonder just how many Obama haters are now going to say that Abraham Lincoln was a Muslim??

    December 23, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  12. S Callahan

    This is remarkable....for most, myself included..the Bible is the most sacared of Books...if it could talk , this Bible would have many stories to tell regarding Lincoln ....I would love to read the side notes in it.....Lincoln was a divine part of history , a part that man did not recognize in his time...he not only represents maturation for society but healing....

    December 23, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  13. Kimberly in Texas

    January 20th can not come soon enough!

    December 23, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  14. Lori

    Powerful stuff! I cannot wait to see Obama's inauguration! The world is so happy and America has redeemed itself in the eyes of the world.

    Good luck President-elect Obama, we are all rooting for you!

    December 23, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  15. Keep an Eye on Obama

    Honest Abe will be rolling in his grave. "I, Barack Hussein Obama..."

    December 23, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  16. Accountant Guy

    Wow, that is amazing. It is great that the Library of Congress has agreed to let it be used for the inauguration!!

    December 23, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  17. PJP in OK

    Another good move!!!!

    December 23, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  18. DC FOR OBAMA

    I thought he was a MUSLIM ?LOL

    December 23, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  19. Eric

    Let's guess how many repugs will write he will be sworn in, his hand on the Koran.

    December 23, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  20. James Magabo

    President – Elect Barack Obama's decision to be sworn using the same Bible as Abraham Lincoln used is a great symbolic gesture of the respect he pays to Abraham Lincoln. I pray thaty Obama will unite the United States of America as Lincoln did. Had Lincoln failed, the present United States of America would be defferent.

    Long Live President Barack Obama.

    December 23, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  21. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This shoots down the idea that people believe he was going to be sworn in on a Koran. Does it really matter what Obama was sworn in on before and in January? As long as he understands that he is going to be handed one of the most powerful positions in the world and that he needs to follow the rules, I don't care what book he is sworn in on.

    December 23, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  22. Marc in Virginia

    The arrogance of this man. He has the audacity to use the Lincoln bible when he has done nothing. I suppose he will begin carving his image out in Mt. Rushmore by the inauguration.

    December 23, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  23. What no Koran??!??!

    I guess he really isn't a Muslim.

    Merry Christmas, and if you're a non-believer, then enjoy the day off!

    December 23, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  24. patNY

    The symbolism of the First African American President being sworn in with the bible used by the President who freed the slaves [and ironically the first Republican president], is too important for anyone to miss, AND...hopefully, it will deter people from making the expected nasty comments, like, gee, surprised he's not using his own personal Quran. But, knowing how some people are, I'm sure there will be those nasty ignorant posts.

    December 23, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  25. NEL E BELL

    ALL THIS SYBOLIC PUBLIC RELATIONS, IS GETTING PRETTY LAME. I HAVE BUT ONE QUESTION FOR OBAMA AND THE DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS IS THIS. WHERE'S THE MONEY, WHERE'S THE MONEY.ENOUGH WITH THE WHAT BRILLANCE AND BALANCE IN THE CABINET CHOICES. WHAT ANGERS ME IS I'M A DEMOCRAT THAT WORKS HARD AND PAYS MY TAXES FOR GOOD GOVERNMENT NOT SYMBOLIC NONSENCE...

    December 23, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
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