Abraham Lincoln’s Bible to come out of archives for Obama

December 24th, 2008 - 12:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Dec 24 (IANS) The historic Bible that Abraham Lincoln took oath on in 1861 when he became the 16th US president will be taken out of the Library of Congress for the first since then when Barack Obama is sworn in as the country’s 44th president on Jan 20.Presidential Inaugural Committee Executive Director Emmett Beliveau said here Tuesday: “President-elect Obama is deeply honoured that the Library of Congress has made the Lincoln Bible available for use during his swearing-in.

“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.”

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.

The copy of the Bible that Obama will use 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, Illinois, to their new home at the White House.

The Bible 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 centre of the top cover is a shield of gold 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…”

Lincoln, from the state of Illinois that Obama represented in the US Congress, presided over the country’s biggest domestic crisis, the American Civil War, and ended slavery, but he was killed by an assassin’s bullet in 1865.

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