Daily Archives: December 23, 2008

Dusting off the Lincoln Bible

Several history bloggers, including me, have mentioned the Lincoln-Obama parallels that have been floating around in the press.  I think most of these comparisons are a load of horse-flop, not because they offend any political sensibilities I might have, but because of their banal superficiality.

Anyway, when Obama is sworn in, he’ll be using the same Bible Lincoln used at his first inauguration.  Washington’s inaugural Bible has probably been the most popular choice, having been used for four ceremonies (five, if you count Washington’s own).

As a former museum guy, this custom of swearing-in on historic Bibles has always irked me a little.  When I see a video of an incoming president pressing his bare flesh on one of these babies, I’m thinking, “He’s not wearing gloves!  No gloves!  Somebody get him some white cotton gloves!” 

After all, a president-elect’s hands are as oily and contaminated as anybody else’s.

According to the above-linked story, Obama is also going to follow Lincoln’s inaugural train route from Springfield to D.C.  Of course, Lincoln’s train trip started out with a misplaced inaugural address manuscript and ended with rumors of an assassination plot and accusations of physical cowardice.  I’m guessing his first bit of advice to Obama would be, “Seriously, pal,  just take a plane.”

(The photo of Lincoln’s first inauguration is from Wikimedia Commons.)

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Filed under Abraham Lincoln, History and Memory