Bible gifted to Lincoln during Civil War finds home

Local News

Family donates Bible to Presidential Library Museum

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Another item Abraham Lincoln once owned has new home.

A bible given to the 16th president ended up in San Francisco. Thursday, the good book was unveiled at its new home at The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM).

Museums often see artifacts come and go but this bible offers a unique look into one of the most mysterious aspects of Lincoln, his religion.

“We are announcing to the world the acquisition of a truly wonderful piece of history; a bible owned by President Abraham Lincoln,” said Alan Lowe, executive director of the ALPLM.

In June of 1864, President Lincoln, his wife, Mary Todd, and son, Tad, attended a fair in Phildelphia.

“That evening, Lincoln attended a reception. He received the thanks of the fair’s organizers as well as a number of gifts from the subsidiary organizations. This bible was one of those gifts that Abraham Lincoln received that night. He received it from the ladies of the Philadelphia volunteer hospital,” said state historian Dr. Samuel Wheeler.

After President Lincoln died, Mrs. Lincoln gave the bible to a family friend. “One of the people she turned to for help was baptist minister Noyes Miner,” said Wheeler.

Miner was a neighbor of the president’s when he lived in Springfield. Now, generations later, Miner’s family said it was time to give that gift back to this city.

“They said, ‘You know, we are looking for a good home for this item. We feel that maybe this is the right place here in Springfield where Mr. Lincoln had lived,'” said Ian hunt, director of acquisitions at the ALPLM.

The value of the hand-tooled leather King James Bible, edged in gold gilt, is unknown but historians said the bible offers a priceless look into questions surrounding Lincoln’s faith.

“There were a number of ribbons, bookmarks if you will, scattered throughout the book. The family told us, that Mary told them her husband placed those markers in the book. He may have leafed through it. He may have read certain passages that meant something to him,” Wheeler said.

Reverend Susan Phillips is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church where Mary Todd was a member. “Adding President Lincoln’s Bible to the collection is significant,” said Phillips, “because our history shapes our context today. We are interested in how the president’s familiarity with scripture can inform how we interpret and relate to one another today.”

You can see the bible inside the museum’s Treasure Gallery until the end of this year. After that, it will be put away for preservation. It will remain in Illinois.

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