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Chapter 1 - Congress and the Bible



1. The American Bible Society, which did not exist until 1816, was not formed by the Continental or any later Congress, nor did it have Thomas Jefferson as its first chairman...

See W.P. Strickland, History of the American Bible Society from its Organization to the Present Time, (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1849) for the early history of the the society. The history of the formation of the society begins on page 27 of this volume.

Full volume available on the University of Michigan Making of America website:
History of the American Bible Society from its Organization to the Present Time



2. Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives Microfilm Publication M247, r53, i42, v1, p35.

Document description:
Memorial of Rev. Francis Alison to the Continental Congress regarding the printing of Bibles - July 7, 1777.

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3. Worthington C. Ford, ed., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, vol. 8, (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1907), 733-734.

Document description:
Committee report on memorial of Rev. Francis Alison to the Continental Congress regarding the printing of Bibles - September 11, 1777.

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Page 733
Page 734

Full volume available on the Library of Congress A Century of Lawmaking website:
Journals of the Continental Congress, vol. 8



4. Studies in Bibliography, Vol. 3, (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1950-1951), 275-276.

Document description:
The committee's list of proposed regulations that would be necessary if the Continental Congress decided to advance the money for the printing of Bibles - September 1777.

Full article available on the University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center website:
The Continental Congress Considers the Publication of a Bible, 1777



5. Worthington C. Ford, ed., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, vol. 8, (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1907), 734.

Document description:
Committee report on memorial of Rev. Francis Alison to the Continental Congress regarding the printing of Bibles - September 11, 1777.

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Full volume available on the Library of Congress A Century of Lawmaking website:
Journals of the Continental Congress, vol. 8



6. Gaillard Hunt, ed., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, vol. 18, (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1910), 979.

Document description:
Motion made by James McLene for the Continental Congress to regulate the printing of Bibles in the individual states - October 26, 1780.

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Full volume available on the Library of Congress A Century of Lawmaking website:
Journals of the Continental Congress, vol. 18



7. Studies in Bibliography, Vol.3, (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1950-1951), 276.

Document description:
The committee's list of proposed regulations that would be necessary if the Continental Congress decided to advance the money for the printing of Bibles - September 1777.

Full article available on the University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center website:
The Continental Congress Considers the Publication of a Bible, 1777



8. Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives Microfilm Publication M247, r48, i41, v1, p63.

Document description:
Memorial of Robert Aitken to the Continental Congress regarding the printing of Bibles - January 21, 1781.

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9. Gaillard Hunt, ed., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, vol. 23, (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1914), 574.

Document description:
Endorsement of Robert Aitken's edition of the Bible by the Continental Congress - September 12, 1782.

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Full volume available on the Library of Congress A Century of Lawmaking website:
Journals of the Continental Congress, vol. 23



10. Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives Microfilm Publication M247, r48, i41, v1, p63.

Document description:
Memorial of Robert Aitken to the Continental Congress regarding the printing of Bibles - January 21, 1781.

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11. Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives Microfilm Publication M247, r48, i41, v1, p63.

Document description:
Memorial of Robert Aitken to the Continental Congress regarding the printing of Bibles - January 21, 1781.

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12. Gaillard Hunt, ed., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, vol. 23, (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1914), 573.

Document description:
Letter from the Continental Congress to its chaplains requesting that they examine Robert Aitken's Bible for accuracy - September 1, 1782.

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Full volume available on the Library of Congress A Century of Lawmaking website:
Journals of the Continental Congress, vol. 23



13. Gaillard Hunt, ed., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, vol. 23, (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1914), 573.

Document description:
Report of the chaplains to the Continental Congress on the accuracy of Robert Aitken's Bible - September 10, 1782.

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Full volume available on the Library of Congress A Century of Lawmaking website:
Journals of the Continental Congress, vol. 23



14. Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives Microfilm Publication M247, r90, i78, v1, p421.

Document description:
Letter from Robert Aitken to John Hanson requesting that the Continental Congress purchase some of his Bibles to be distributed to the states - September 9, 1782.

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15. John Rodgers to George Washington, May 30, 1783, George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 4, General Correspondence.

Document description:
Letter from John Rodgers to George Washington requesting that the Continental Congress purchase some of Robert Aitken's Bibles to be given as gifts to the soldiers - May 30, 1783.

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Page 1
Page 2

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John Rodgers to George Washington, May 30, 1783



16. George Washington to John Rodgers, June 11, 1783, George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 4, General Correspondence.

Document description:
George Washington's reply to John Rodgers's request that the Continental Congress purchase some of Robert Aitken's Bibles to be given as gifts to the soldiers - June 11, 1783.

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Page 1
Page 2

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George Washington to John Rodgers, June 11, 1783



17. Robert Aitken to George Washington, June 9, 1790, George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 4, General Correspondence.

Document description:
Letter from Robert Aitken to George Washington requesting an appointment as printer to Congress - June 9, 1790.

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Page 1
Page 2

Higher resolution images available in the George Washington Papers on the Library of Congress American Memory website:
Robert Aitken to George Washington, June 9, 1790

Additional document:
Reply to Robert Aitken, written by Tobias Lear for Washington (mentioned on page 21 but not included in footnotes)

Tobias Lear to Robert Aitken, June 14, 1790, George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 2 Letterbooks, Letterbook #22.

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Tobias Lear to Robert Aitken, June 14, 1790



18. W.P. Strickland, History of the American Bible Society from its Organization to the Present Time, (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1849), 19-21.

Document description:
Book containing an early example of the use of the 1777 and 1782 stories about the Continental Congress printing Bibles.

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Page 19
Page 20
Page 21

Full volume available on the University of Michigan Making of America website:
History of the American Bible Society from its Organization to the Present Time



19. Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, vol. 6, (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1846), 116.

Document description:
An Act for the relief of the Philadelphia Bible Society - February 2, 1813.

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Full volume available online on the Library of Congress A Century of Lawmaking website:
Statutes at Large, vol. 6



20. Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, vol. 5, (Washington D.C.: Gales & Seaton, 1821), 231.

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Document description:
Description in the Senate Journal of the reason for An Act for the relief of the Philadelphia Bible Society - January 14, 1813.

Full volume available on the Library of Congress A Century of Lawmaking website:
Journal of the Senate, vol. 5



21. Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, vol. 6, (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1846), 162.

Document description:
An Act for the relief of the Baltimore and Massachusetts Bible Societies - April 20, 1816.

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Full volume available on the Library of Congress A Century of Lawmaking website:
Statutes at Large, vol. 6



22. The Debates and Proceedings of the Congress of the United States of America, (Washington D.C.: Gales & Seaton, 1854), 14th Cong., 1st Sess., 298.

Document description:
Recommendation of committee and decision of Senate that an 1816 memorial of the Philadelphia Bible Society requesting tax exemptions for all Bible societies not be granted - April 5 & 6, 1816.

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Full volume available on the Library of Congress A Century of Lawmaking website:
Debates and Proceedings, 14th Cong., 1st Sess.



23. Walter Lowrie and Walter S. Franklin, eds., American State Papers: Finance, vol. 3, (Washington D.C.: Gales & Seaton, 1834), 115.

Document description:
Committee report on 1816 memorial of the Philadelphia Bible Society requesting tax exemptions for all Bible societies, recommending that this not be granted - April 5, 1816.

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Full volume available on the Library of Congress A Century of Lawmaking website:
American State Papers: Finance, vol. 3



Additional Information - Other acts listed in Justice Burger's footnote on page 28.

Document description:
Acts cited by Chief Justice Burger in Walz v. Tax Commission of the City of New York (1970) as examples of tax exemptions granted to religious societies on the importation of religious articles.

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6 Stat. 346
6 Stat. 600
6 Stat. 675

Full volume available on the Library of Congress A Century of Lawmaking website:
Statutes at Large, vol. 6