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. Baze

    I love it

    December 23, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  2. naqib

    Maybe while under oath he can explain why it takes three weeks to release papers saying you and your people have nothing to say?

    Great way to start... the latest poll says only 43% of America believe you... Wow... lost 20% of those who voted for you and you're not in office yet... LMAO

    December 23, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  3. D

    How unbelievable is that! I am so pleased just to witness such a historic event! All these years past and the deep wound that is known as Americas Original sin is finally starting to heal.

    UNITED we stand, seperate we fall..... lets all be purple!

    December 23, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  4. Cammi317

    I like it. I wonder why no former Presidents chose the Bible of the President who freed the slaves and united this country once and for all.

    December 23, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  5. anonymous in Big D

    Oh brother!

    December 23, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  6. bj, Texas

    The cover might be the Lincoln Bible but the inside will be the Koran.

    December 23, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  7. obama


    December 23, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  8. Dave, Illinois

    How arrogant! I have heard to many in the media, and Obama himself, comparing him to Licoln. He has done nothing yet but run an effective campaign and raise money. Lets see some real nose to the grindstone work and less hype!

    December 23, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  9. NorthEastIndependant

    I personally did not want Obama to win, But I think this is tremendous, and really historical. It has is of great significance. The one who abolished slavery lending his Bible to the First African/White President.


    December 23, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  10. RealityKing

    And ain't it great how Obama's team is resembling Lincoln's Republican ideals more and more with every appointment...

    December 23, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  11. NorthEastIndependant

    Please remember Obama, is Not African American, He is of African Decent mixes with Wite.

    African Americans are decendants of those who suffered the attrocity known as Slavery.

    He does not have the pain of slavery or discrimination running through his veins.

    December 23, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  12. Accountant Guy

    Lincoln would be proud to see our first black president, Barack, being sworn in on his bible.

    December 23, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  13. Liars

    This is a lie. Lincoln DID NOT free any slaves. You people need to do your history!

    December 23, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  14. lynn

    Nel E Bell you need to ask President Bush where the money is since he is still in charge. Obama does not take office until January.

    Hopefully under Obama's presidency we can all come together as a people regardless of race or religion. We have been divided too long.

    December 23, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  15. D

    Hey North East Independent, he doesn't have slavery running through his veins, but his wife and children do....not to mention 50,000,000 million or so African Americans...I think it's another AWSOME move to help unite this country.....

    December 23, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  16. Bridgette-PA


    December 23, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  17. RW

    In the Library of Congress, or is it pack away with the first family?

    who ever wrote this article, please get your facts together, you are confusing the reader

    December 23, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  18. Hey NE Independent

    Hmmm... I hate to be rude but are you perhaps caucasian? I'm guessing yes to make such a silly comment. Let me see.... he's part African, he's part American. Holy crud! I think that makes him African American! Don't parse with this nonesense about how only slave descendants are African American. If you have one ounce of discernable black in you. No matter where that "black" came from then in America your lumped in to this large group because that's what white America does. FYI you can spare me the white thing too about his mother. Be honest do you consider him white? Do you? No you don't.

    December 23, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  19. Boston for OBAMA

    Another historic moment in time. Obama will break many more barriers for all people of the United States of America. GOD BLESS AMERICA!

    December 23, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  20. Iowa Mom


    I personally did not want Obama to win, But I think this is tremendous, and really historical. It has is of great significance. The one who abolished slavery lending his Bible to the First African/White President.



    If only we had more people like you. People who even though their candidate did not win, still has enough respect for the one who did. And I completely agree with your statement about the Bible, very cool.

    December 23, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  21. Janice

    I think this is wonderful!!!

    Happy Holidays everyone.

    December 23, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  22. Larry in Houston

    That Bible is just about the Same Bible that you see in Hotels / Motels and such......No big deal.....That Bible has the same message as most Christian Bibles, The guy died on the cross, for us. He lived for 33 years, and He would like for people to treat others as they would like to be treated, period.

    Larry C.
    Houston, Texas

    December 23, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  23. Mari

    @ BJ in Texas............ WHY CONTINUE TO LIE?? And I bet you consider yourself a Christian.... what does the Ten Commandments say about "not bearing FALSE WITNESS?"

    There will always be HATERS among us, the thing that gets me so upset are the HATERS who consider themselves CHRISTIANS! IF you are Christian being a HATER .........IS A GRAVE SIN.



    December 23, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  24. chris s.

    Thats pretty cool!!!

    December 23, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  25. Andy

    Blagojevich said he should use the Nixon bible

    December 23, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
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