On Friday, businessman Donald Trump will take the oath of office to become president of the United States, and Indiana Governor Mike Pence will take the oath of office to become vice president. Each of them will use a historic Bible, and Trump will also use a sentimental Bible from his own past.
President-elect Trump will be sworn in using the same Bible that President Abraham Lincoln used at his inauguration in 1860, along with a Bible Trump’s own mother gave him in 1955, CBS News reported.
“In his first inaugural address, President Lincoln appealed to the ‘better angels of our nature,'” Tom Barrack, chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, said in a statement. “As he takes the same oath of office 156 years later, President-elect Trump is humbled to place his hand on Bibles that hold special meaning both to his family and to our country.”
Trump’s mother gave the president-elect his Bible when he graduated from Sunday Church Primary School at First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens in 1955. He was nine years old, and the Bible has been with him for 62 years. The Bible is embossed with Trump’s name on the cover, as are many similar gift Bibles.
The Lincoln Bible was also used in both of President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremonies, in 2009 and 2013.
Trump is far from the first president to be sworn in with two Bibles. Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and of course Barack Obama each swore the oath on two Bibles as well.
Mike Pence, however, will swear on one Bible, The Reagan Family Bible, which President Ronald Reagan used to take the oath of office. “President Ronald Reagan placed his faith in a loving God and the goodness of our country,” Pence declared in a statement. “He set out to change a nation and in doing so, he changed the world. In the march of history, Ronald Reagan’s time in office was limited, but his legacy inspired a generation and will continue beyond.”
Pence added that “it will be humbling to enter office with President Donald Trump, standing next to my family, with my wife Karen holding the same Bible used by President Reagan when he took office.” Reagan used this Bible at his gubernatorial and presidential inaugurations, and this will be the first time that anyone besides Reagan has used it at an inauguration.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will administer the oath of office to Pence, becoming the first African-American in history to administer the oath to a president or vice president of the United States. In October 2016, Thomas celebrated his 25th year on the Court, making him the longest serving African-American Justice in American history.
“It will be my honor to take the Oath of Office to defend our Constitution from a man who has dedicated his life to the same noble pursuit,” Pence said of Justice Thomas. “Justice Thomas was born into poverty in Pin Point, Georgia. From those humble beginnings, Justice Thomas went on to graduate from Holy Cross College and Yale Law School. He served in the Reagan Administration and was appointed to the federal bench in 1990 and the Supreme Court in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush. I have long admired Justice Clarence Thomas and deeply respect his judicial philosophy, dedication to the rule of law, and his historic service on the bench of our nation’s highest court.”
It seems fitting that Bibles from the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln will be used on Friday. America is deeply divided — more so perhaps than at any time since the Civil War. At the same time, President-elect Trump famously won the election by winning blue states, considered part of the Democrats’ supposedly impenetrable “blue wall.” Indeed, many have hailed the “Trump Democrats” as an electoral force, similar to the “Reagan Democrats” which propelled the former California governor to victory.
If Trump and Pence can bring the country together as Lincoln did, and help inspire long-term economic growth as Reagan did, that will be a grand accomplishment. These are the aspirations of the new administration, and let us pray it can achieve them.