President Lincoln’s Bible Returns to Port Byron, NY

Cambridge Who’s Who member Dawn Roe, historian for Port Byron, New York, was proud to organize an event that celebrated her community’s special connection to President Abraham Lincoln. The educational event took place on February 4, 2010 at Dana L. West Jr./Sr. High School and was attended by New York State Senator Michael F. Nozzolio. With the cooperation of Hildene-The Lincoln Family Home in Manchester, Vermont, students and citizens attended assemblies and programs focused on Port Byron’s connection to one of the most important American historical transitions.  

The event centered on a Bible sent to Lincoln by Amos King, who was so moved by Lincoln’s Farewell Address delivered in Springfield, Illinois right before he left for Washington, DC to begin his work as the new President of the United States in 1861. Lincoln said:

“I go to assume a task more difficult than that which devolved upon General Washington. Unless the great God who assisted him shall be with and aid me, I must fail. But if the same omniscient mind, and the same Almighty arm that directed and protected him, shall guide and support me, I shall not fail. I shall succeed.”

Upon reading these words in his local paper, King was inspired to send his own symbol of faith in the form of a Bible, which was printed by Charles John Clay of the Cambridge University Press in England. Not to be confused with Lincoln’s inaugural Bible (which was used by President Obama at his own inauguration), the King Bible appears to have been specifically ordered for this occasion. King stated in his letter to Lincoln that in response to his request for “divine assistance in the execution” of the new presidency, “the donor begs leave to present to his Excellency, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, this Bible as a small token of the high esteem and kind regard in which the giver holds the honored recipient.”

Photo Courtesy of Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home, Manchester, VT

Amos King, the grandson of the first white settler of Mentz, came from a respected family of military veterans and lawyers. King later worked on the Erie Canal as a boatman before becoming a successful farmer. Relatives of King still live in the area.

The King Bible was passed down to Lincoln’s only child to live to adulthood, Robert Todd Lincoln, and remained in the family for three generations. It is currently in the possession of Hildene-The Lincoln Family Home, Manchester, VT, which proudly reunited the Bible with the Port Byron community for this event.

Ms. Roe, who served as the Mistress of Ceremonies at the event, hopes to see a future president take the Oath of Office using the King Bible in her lifetime.

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