WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama will use the same Bible at his swearing in that Abraham Lincoln used for his first inauguration in 1861.
Obama will be the first president since Lincoln to use that Bible, part of the collection of the Library of Congress.
“President-elect Obama is deeply honored that the Library of Congress has made the Lincoln Bible available for use during his swearing-in,” Presidential Inaugural Committee Executive Director Emmett Beliveau said in a statement Tuesday.
The selection maintains the Obama practice of encouraging historical comparisons with the 16th president, who was the first from Illinois and one of the next president’s longtime favorites.
In announcing his presidential bid in February 2007, Obama picked the Old State Capitol in Springfield, where Lincoln had served. He also plans to follow Lincoln’s example by taking a train to Washington for his inauguration.
The burgundy velvet Bible with gilded edges was purchased and inscribed by William Thomas Carroll, clerk of the Supreme Court.
It will be on display at the Library of Congress Feb. 12 to May 9 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 – Sacramento, Calif., Chicago, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Omaha, Neb. – in commemoration of the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth on Feb. 12, 1809.
The book was not the Lincoln family Bible, which was packed away among family belongings that were being shipped from Springfield.
Incoming presidents are not required to be sworn in on a Bible. Most have done so, however, often using their family Bible.