St. John’s Lodge No. 1 A.Y.M., F & A.M is the owner of what is now known as the George Washington Inaugural Bible. On April 30th 1789 it was upon this Bible George Washington took his oath of office and launched the Presidency of the United States.
Since that time, the George Washington Inaugural Bible has been used for the Inaugurations of Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush.
In addition to being used in Presidential Inaugurations, the George Washington Inaugural Bible has been present at the funeral processions of President George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and Zachary Taylor. It has also been present at the cornerstone laying of the U.S. Capitol, the dedication of the Washington Monument, the centennials of the cornerstone laying of the White House, U.S. Capitol, and the Statue of Liberty, the 1964 World’s Fair as well as the launching of the aircraft carrier George Washington.
So that the relevance of this artifact was not lost to history, the following page was inserted
“On this sacred volume, on the 30th day of April, A.L. 5789 in the City of New York, was administered to George Washington, the first president of the United States of America, the oath to support the Constitution of the United States.
This important ceremony was performed by the Honorable Robert R. Livingston, Chancellor of the State.
Fame stretched her wings and with her trumpet blew.
Great Washington is near. What praise is due
What title shall he have? She paused-and said
Not one – his name alone strikes every title dead’. “
The ceremony took place in the open gallery of the old City Hall (afterward called Federal Hall), in the presence of a vast multitude. Washington was dressed in a suit of dark brown cloth and white silk stockings, all of American manufacture.
His hair was powdered and dressed in the fashion of the day, clubbed and ribboned. The oath of office was administered by Robert R. Livingston. The open Bible on which the President laid his hand was held on a rich crimson velvet cushion by Mr. Otis, Secretary of the Senate. Near them were John Adams, who had been chosen Vice-President; George Clinton, Governor of New York; Philip Schuyler, John Jay, General Knox, Ebenezer Hazard, Samuel Osgood; and other distinguished men.
After taking the oath and kissing the sacred book reverently, Washington closed his eyes and in an attitude of devotion said: “So help me God!” The Chancellor exclaimed, “It is done!” and then turning to the people he shouted, “Long live George Washington, the first President of the United States.” That shout was echoed and re-echoed by the multitude, when the President and the members of Congress retired to the Senate Chamber, where Washington delivered a most impressive inaugural address.
At the conclusion, he and the members went in procession to St. Paul’s Church (which, with the other churches, had been opened for prayers at nine o’clock that morning), and there they invoked the blessing of Almighty God upon the new government.
George Washington Inaugural Bible Facts:
* The George Washington Inaugural Bible was printed in London, England by Mark Baskett, printer to the King.
* It contains 103 steel engravings of maps and Old Testament scenes by the English artist John Stuart.
* It is a King James Version, complete with Apocrypha and elaborately supplemented with the historical, astronomical and legal data of that period.
* The George Washington Inaugural Bible was procured for St. John’s Lodge by Jonathan Hampton who presented it to the Lodge on becoming its Master in 1770. St. Johns Lodge was founded in 1757, but its regalia and records were destroyed in the great fire of lower Manhattan on March 8, 1770.
* The George Washington Inaugural Bible must be accompanied by 3 members of St. John’s when ever the George Washington Inaugural Bible travels. There are no restrictions on the modes of transportation that can be used.