The Bible that was used in the first inauguration of George Washington will be on display for one day at Gilcrease Museum this November.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 7, the Bible, which is owned by the St. John’s Lodge, Ancient York Masons, will be on display in the Focus on Favorites exhibition. Other works from the Gilcrease collection that will be on display near the Bible are a George Washington marble bust by Jean Antoine Houdon, and John Vanderlyn’s oil painting Washington and Lafayette at the Battle of Brandywine.
As the oath of office was about to be administered to the president of the new government, 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, offered to retrieve the altar Bible from the lodge. The Bible was brought, and the ceremony proceeded. The stately Washington took his oath with his right hand resting on the Bible. 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.
Museum admission will be free for this one-day-only event.