This week Donald Trump will take the oath of office as the 45th President of the United States of America. It has been a tradition since George Washington was sworn in that the President take his oath of office while swearing (or affirming) on a bible of his choice.
The story goes that all the preparations for the first inauguration were made, when at the last minute the realization was made that a bible had not been brought for President-Elect Washington to use in taking the oath of office.
St. John’s Lodge No. 1 in New York City was nearby and they describe on their website the actions in detail:
Everything was ready for the administration of the oath of office to the President of the new government, when it was discovered that a Holy Bible had not been provided on which the President-Elect could swear allegiance to the Constitution. Jacob Morton, who was Marshal of the parade, and at that time Master of St. John's Lodge, was standing close by. Seeing the dilemma they were in, he remarked that he could get the altar Bible of St. John's Lodge, which met at the Old Coffee House on the corner of Water and Wall Streets. Chancellor Livingston begged him to do so. The Bible was brought, and the ceremony proceeded. The stately Washington took his oath with his right hand resting on the Bible which had been opened to Genesis XLIX and L. His head bowed in a reverential manner, he added in a clear and distinct voice, "I swear, so help me God!" then bowing over this magnificent Bible, he reverently kissed it, whereupon Chancellor Livingston exclaimed in a ringing voice, "Long live George Washington, President of the United States!"
George Washington Bible at the Annual Communication
of the Grand Lodge of Illinois in 2009
In 2013 CBS News did this excellent story on the Washington Bible.
So which bible if any, will Donald Trump use to take the oath of office? Or as some have suggested might he use his book “The Art of the Deal”? We will soon find out.
WB Gregory J. Knott is the Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.