QUESTIONS WE ARE ASKED ALL THE TIME...
Where is the George Washington Inaugural Bible kept when it is not in use?
The Bible is placed on loan to Federal Hall National Memorial, a site on the corner of Broad and Wall Street in Lower Manhattan that is managed by the National Park Service.
Federal Hall, built in 1700 as New York's City Hall, later served as the first capitol building of the United States of America under the Constitution and it was also where the United States Bill of Rights was introduced in the First Congress. The building was demolished in 1812.
Federal Hall National Memorial was built in 1842 as the United States Custom House, on the site of the old Federal Hall on Wall Street, and later served as a sub-Treasury building.
Please check with the National Park Service before visiting to make sure that the Bible is there. It travels several times throughout the year.
Is it true that George Washington used a Masonic Bible?
Although Washington was a Freemason and the Bible brought forth was from a Masonic Lodge, there is no such thing as a Masonic Bible.
Most Masonic lodges in the United States use the King James Version of the Bible for candidates to take their obligations on. Some use other books of holy writ that reflect their individual faith tradition. It is important to point out that Freemasonry is not a religion nor espouses one faith over another; in fact discussion of religion is prohibited while in the lodge room.
I was told that the Bible never travels by air. Is that true?
Contrary to common myth, the Bible can and does often travel by air. The myth arose when the Master of the Lodge at the time of the Re-dedication of the Washington Memorial was in Washington D.C. for the ceremony. This took place in the presence of many Masonic worthies as well as members of the media and politicians. During the ceremony the Master at that time shared with a Past Master of St. John’s the fact that he had served in Vietnam jumping out of helicopters and on his return home he had vowed never to let his feet leave the ground again. During his year, therefore, the Bible travelled by road or train. A member of the Media attached to the popular program The West Wing was apprised of this comment and in a later episode of that program the fictitious President Jed Bartlett was told that the Bible never traveled by air. A myth was born!
What kind of condition is the Bible in?
The Bible is in very good condition relative to its age which is close to 250 years old. It has been taken care of and had a partial restoration done in the past. The Bible, though, needs a significant upgrade in conservation and preservation measures which is the reason why the Foundation was formed. We need to have both simple and large restorations done to the Bible in the coming years.
How often do you travel with the Bible?
The Bible very rarely leaves Federal Hall National Memorial. When it is it, we often use it for the Master Mason obligations, the installation of the Master of the Lodge, the installation of the Grand Master of Masons of New York, and the oath of office for the President of the United States, the Mayor of New York City, and the Governor of the State of New York.
We would like to travel more often with it, which is why we are raising funds to have it restored. We also take it once or twice a year to events around the country.
Does every President take their oath of office on the George Washington Inaugural Bible?
No. It has been used by five Presidents in an official capacity. It is up to each President to choose their respective document or volume of sacred law to take the oath on. Many President's use more than one.