Published December 23, 2008
The similarities between President-elect Barack Obama and Abraham Lincoln will be on full display on Inauguration Day when Obama takes the oath of office using the same Bible used to swear in Lincoln.
Obama will be the first president sworn in using the Lincoln Bible since its initial use in 1861. The Bible is part of the collections 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 written statement.
"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," he said.
There is no constitutional requirement to use a Bible during the swearing-in. Presidents have traditionally used Bibles for the ceremony, choosing a volume with personal or historical significance.
Then-Chief Justice Roger B. Taney administered the oath of office to Lincoln with the brief words: "I, Abraham Lincoln, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Supreme Court clerk William Thomas Carroll originally purchased the Lincoln Bible for use during Lincoln's swearing-in ceremony on March 4, 1861. Carroll recorded the occasion by inscribing the words in the back of the Bible, which was given as a gift to the Library in 1928 by the wife of Robert Todd Lincoln, the first son of the president and Mary Todd Lincoln, and the only one of their four sons to live beyond his teenage years.
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. The 1,280-page Bible was published in 1853 by the Oxford University Press.
Obama has gone to great lengths to note his admiration for Lincoln, who, like Obama, was an Illinois lawmaker before becoming president of the United States.