An Abraham Lincoln Bible, which experts didn’t know about, resurfaced, 150 years after the president’s assassination. Lincoln was vague on the subject of religion and this Bible gives new clues about his faith.
When the president died, his widow, Mary Todd Lincoln, gave the Bible to Rev. Noyes Miner, a Baptist minister and family friend. The Bible weighed 18 pounds, had a hand-tooled leather cover, and gilt-edged pages, reports Smithsonian Magazine.
We see it as an important artifact to preserve for history’s sake, but also the beginning of a conversation about the relevance of Lincoln and the role of religion in our lives today. —Alan Lowe, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
The Miner family treasured the Bible and kept it throughout several generations until donating it to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois.
“We see it as an important artifact to preserve for history’s sake,” said Alan Lowe, executive director of the library and museum, “but also the beginning of a conversation about the relevance of Lincoln and the role of religion in our lives today.”
The Bible had an inscription on the cover, “to Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States,” from “the Ladies of the Citizens Volunteer Hospital of Philadelphia.” The words “faith,” “hope” and “charity” were engraved on the book’s edges.
Historians said Lincoln’s religious views were unclear and changed throughout his life. Born into a Baptist family but was never baptized, he questioned the truth about religious dogmas in his early 20s, according to History.com.
Allen Guelzo, a professor of Civil War-era studies at Gettysburg College, revealed that Lincoln could shock people by his skepticism. “By the time he moves into his late 20s and early 30s, he has started to temper that because he realizes that doesn’t get him very far politically.”
1862 was a crucial year that changed Lincoln’s views about the divine. The Civil War and the sudden death of his son made the president find comfort with God’s word and turn to Christ. When presented with the Bible, he called it the “best gift God has given to man.”
Mary Lincoln’s decision to give the president’s Bible to Miner was a move she hoped would prove of her husband’s faith.