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

Obama to take oath of office using Lincoln Bible

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Charles Stoll

    Absolutley Fitting and appropriate that the first African American President use an artifact related correlated to the emancipation of African Americans in America. It's about time America got it right.

    December 23, 2008 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  2. Mike in Ca

    A great symbol!

    December 23, 2008 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  3. L.V.

    If we are not careful.. when this whole thing is said and done we all might be more united..... how scary!!!!!!!

    The ghost of Lincoln is BACK!!!

    December 23, 2008 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  4. dede-ole

    Obama is walking in the right shoes .lincoln was a great leader worth of celebration.Obama seems to accept the destiny that is being bestoed on him. He seems to look beyoud now and believe in american endurance.

    December 23, 2008 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  5. Greg

    I find it quite hypocritical that Mr. Obama would even use a bible during the inauguration since he didn't think it necessary to even go to church until after the campaign.

    It's also typical of his ego that he even presumes to use the bible of one of our greatest presidents and that no other president has used since.

    December 23, 2008 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  6. Jan in NC

    God bless our President-elect! America - UNITE!!

    December 23, 2008 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  7. News flash

    I think this is great! Regardless of what some people think of the President-Elect, they will have to agree that he will restore the statue of the OFFICE of POTUS to the honor the founding fathers meant for it to be. From now own, the American people will be very careful of whom they elect POTUS. No matter how much money you can rake in, or how much negative advertising you do, the future Presidents will have to be a candidate of substance. The American People have made this criteria a must, not ideaology.

    December 23, 2008 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  8. Heh

    Guess that'll put an end to the rumors that he'd be sworn in on the Quran.

    December 23, 2008 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  9. Charles L. Shaw, Liverpool, NY

    Good Luck My President, the time is now, may God be with you.
    Always remember it is the working American that needs a President now more than ever.

    December 23, 2008 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  10. Jeff in NC

    You are absolutely correct Newsflash. Candidates are going to have to earn the votes of the American people.

    December 23, 2008 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  11. richard


    December 23, 2008 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  12. Ignorance is Bliss

    Not using the Koran, huh?

    December 23, 2008 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  13. Outrageous----

    How can a President who would deny human rights to a minority (ie: gay marriage) take an oath using the Lincoln bible?

    December 23, 2008 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  14. williefloyd

    Absolutely a wonderful decision!

    December 23, 2008 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  15. OWL

    So appropriate in so many ways.

    December 23, 2008 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  16. Once you vote Black

    Some Muslim. Well it wont work. There is no way he is going to fool the good people of WV, KY, TN who have more toes then teeth. We are too advance thinkers for that.

    December 23, 2008 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  17. Susan

    That's incredible – monumental, symbolic and historic. Now watch the haters come out to play....

    December 23, 2008 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  18. John in Ohio

    I imagine Republicans will be surprised to learn "Lincoln Bible" isn't a slang term for a Quran.

    December 23, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  19. Larry from TN

    It will probably burn his hand when he touches it.

    December 23, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  20. Kevin in Ohio

    I'm very surprised that the Politically Correct people aren't upset about this as well. Thank you, Mr. Obama, for at least making an effort to bring us back to our Judeo-Christian roots and values. I hope it doesn't upset too many people in your constituencies.

    December 23, 2008 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  21. carol

    Well that is gratifying to hear that PE Obama is using the Lincoln Bible
    on inauguration day.....maybe, just maybe people will get over this ridiculous nonsense that he is a Muslim once and for all!!!

    December 23, 2008 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  22. carlo

    What? No Koran? I tell you, people are so ridiculous. The man is a Christian. He's just not a Fundamentalist or an Evangelical. You know, Christianity was a religion even before America was established as a nation. Heaven will not be filled with Jerry Faldwells.

    December 23, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  23. Ohio lady knows

    But the fear mongers were betting that Obama would take the oath of office on a Qu'ran! I'm starting to think those guys are a bunch of liars! Is he still hanging around with terrorists? Surely something they said is true!

    December 23, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |


    December 23, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  25. Moroni

    That's an interesting tradition, but if it were me I'd like to be sworn in on a stainless steel plate with the engraving of the Bill of Rights. It feels more symbolic to me for that kind of event. 🙂

    December 23, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
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