A bible belonging to Abraham Lincoln has been unveiled to the public for the first time in 150 years.
Mary Todd Lincoln gave the bible tothe Rev. Noyes Miner — a family friend and Springfield neighbor — after the president's death. Mary wanted Miner to help her dispute claims that the president had been an atheist.
And for the next 150 years, the book stayed with the Miner family, until they decided to donate it to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. It will be on display there all year.
Alan Lowe, executive director of the ALPLM, said the bible says a lot about Lincoln’s evolving religious views. “Their evolution over time is a fascinating one, that tells us much about our 16thpresident — how he viewed himself, the world around him and the future of our nation,” Lowe said.
Samuel Wheeler, the state historian, said the bible also gives insight into Mary’s quest to preserve her husband’s legacy.
“One of her strategies was cultivating allies like Miner who could offer a sympathetic portrait,” Wheeler said.
The bible was a token of appreciation to Miner for his help in defending Mary up until her death, Wheeler said.
Ian Hunt, head of acquisition for the ALPLM, was part of the transport team that brought the bible home to Illinois. He said transferring the 18-pound tome from San Francisco to Springfield was a journey like no other.
“When we went into the private screening room to show TSA that we were in fact carrying a bible, the United Airlines representative literally teared up and had to walk out of the room, by just simply looking at this item,” he said. “This is the power that these artifacts hold.”
The bible was lightly cleaned and examined page-by-page, according to Bonnie Parr, the museum’s director of conservation. Ribbons that served as bookmarks were found throughout the bible, she said.
Lincoln originally received the bible as a gift from a Philadelphia hospital that treated sick and wounded soldiers during the Civil War in 1864.
The bible will be exhibited in the museum’s Treasures Gallery, which houses other Lincoln artifacts.