Masonic Bibles and Oaths in the Inauguration of United States Presidents

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This is a list of the 58 regularly scheduled inaugural ceremonies and the nine intra-term extraordinary inaugurations which have taken place since the presidency was established in 1789. For a list of the 73 events when the presidential oath of office has been administered, see Oath of office of the President of the United States.

The George Washington Inaugural Bible is the book that was sworn upon by George Washington when he took office as the first President of the United States. The Bible itself has subsequently been used in the inauguration ceremonies of several other U.S. presidents. St. John’s Lodge No. 1, Ancient York Masons, are the custodians of what is now known as the George Washington Inaugural Bible. On April 30, 1789 it was upon this Bible that George Washington took his oath of office as the first President of the United States.[1] In 2009, the Lodge formed a registered public charity for the purpose of preserving, maintaining and restoring the George Washington Inaugural Bible. In 2014, the St. John’s Lodge No. 1 Foundation, Inc. received recognition as an IRS 501(c)3.

Although the Constitution does not require it, most presidents have sworn the oath of office with their right or left hands placed upon a Bible. Several of the Founding Fathers, including Washington, were Masons. The Bible used for the inaugural oath, printed in 1767, was the Altar Bible of St. John’s Masonic Lodge, No. 1. Presidents George H.W. Bush, Carter, Eisenhower, and Harding also used the same Bible when they were inaugurated. When the Lodge is not using it, the Washington Bible is on display at Federal Hall National Memorial.

Founding Fathers: Christians or Masons…or Both?

5 of the Founding fathers of the United States of America were MASONS: Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, George Washington. It is true that the United States was founded by Freemasons who have interwoven Masonic symbols into American society, particularly in national seals, streets in Washington, D.C., architecture, and the dollar bill.

14 Presidents of the United States of America were Masons: George Washington, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, James Garfield, William McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, William Taft, Warren Harding, F. D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Gerald Ford.

At least a dozen of the United States of America Presidents were sworn / took oath on the Washington Bible ( inl. unknown or unrecorded) open on various passages of Masonic importance.

Date Event Location Oath Administered by[28] Document Sworn On Inaugural Addresses Notes[29]
April 30, 1789 First inauguration of George Washington Balcony of Federal Hall
New York, New York
Robert Livingston
Chancellor of New York
Washington Bible opened at random toGenesis 49:13 due to haste.[30] George Washington’s First Inaugural Address First President of the United States following the ratification of the Constitution.
March 4, 1793 Second inauguration of George Washington Senate Chamber
Congress Hall
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
William Cushing
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Unknown[31] George Washington’s Second Inaugural Address Shortest inaugural address (135 words).
March 4, 1797 Inauguration of John Adams House Chamber
Congress Hall
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Oliver Ellsworth Unknown[31] John Adams’ Inaugural Address First oath administered by the Chief Justice.
March 4, 1801 First inauguration of Thomas Jefferson Senate Chamber, U.S. Capitol John Marshall Unknown[31] Thomas Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address First time Marine Band played (done in every inauguration since);
First time address printed on the morning of the inauguration (the National Intelligencer);
First inauguration not attended by outgoing president;
First to walk to and from swearing-in ceremony (instead of carriage).
March 4, 1805 Second inauguration of Thomas Jefferson Senate Chamber, U.S. Capitol John Marshall Unknown[31] Thomas Jefferson’s Second Inaugural Address
March 4, 1809 First inauguration of James Madison House Chamber, U.S. Capitol John Marshall Unknown[31] James Madison’s First Inaugural Address
March 4, 1813 Second inauguration of James Madison House Chamber, U.S. Capitol John Marshall Unknown[31] James Madison’s Second Inaugural Address First Inaugural Ball (Long’s Hotel, tickets $4).
March 4, 1817 First inauguration of James Monroe In front of Old Brick Capitol John Marshall Unknown[31] James Monroe’s First Inaugural Address First oath and inauguration held outdoors.
March 5, 1821 Second inauguration of James Monroe House Chamber, U.S. Capitol John Marshall Unknown[31] James Monroe’s Second Inaugural Address First inauguration to fall on a Sunday – switched to Monday.
March 4, 1825 Inauguration of John Quincy Adams House Chamber, U.S. Capitol John Marshall A book of US law[32] John Quincy Adams’s Inaugural Address First president to wear long trousers instead of knee breeches.
March 4, 1829 First inauguration of Andrew Jackson East Portico, U.S. Capitol John Marshall Unknown[31] Andrew Jackson’s First Inaugural Address Second inauguration not attended by outgoing president.
March 4, 1833 Second inauguration of Andrew Jackson House Chamber, U.S. Capitol John Marshall Unknown[31] Andrew Jackson’s Second Inaugural Address Last oath administered by Marshall (nine total, from Adams to Jackson);
First time two Inaugural balls were held (Carusi’s and Central Masonic Hall).
March 4, 1837 Inauguration of Martin Van Buren East Portico, U.S. Capitol Roger B. Taney Bible open to Proverbs 3:17[31][33] Martin Van Buren’s Inaugural Address First president not born a British subject;
First time President & President-elect rode to the Capitol together for inauguration.
March 4, 1841 Inauguration of William Henry Harrison East Portico, U.S. Capitol Roger B. Taney Unknown[31] William Henry Harrison’s Inaugural Address First president to arrive in Washington, D.C. by train;
First official inaugural planning committee;
Longest Inaugural address (8,445 words)
April 6, 1841 Inauguration of John Tyler
(Extraordinary inauguration)
Brown’s Indian Queen Hotel inWashington, D.C. William Cranch First of eight Vice Presidents to assume Presidency upon the death of the President.
March 4, 1845 Inauguration of James K. Polk East Portico, U.S. Capitol Roger B. Taney Unknown James K. Polk’s Inaugural Address First Inauguration covered by telegraph;
First inauguration known to be illustrated in a newspaper (Illustrated London News).
March 5, 1849 Inauguration of Zachary Taylor East Portico, U.S. Capitol Roger B. Taney Unknown Zachary Taylor’s Inaugural Address Second case of rescheduling from Sunday to Monday;
Three inaugural balls held.
July 10, 1850 Inauguration of Millard Fillmore
(Extraordinary inauguration)
House Chamber, U.S. Capitol William Cranch Second of eight Vice Presidents to assume Presidency upon the death of the President
March 4, 1853 Inauguration of Franklin Pierce East Portico, U.S. Capitol Roger B. Taney Law book[31][34] Franklin Pierce’s Inaugural Address Oath affirmed (not sworn);
First speech recited entirely from memory;
Inaugural ball cancelled;
Vice President ill and sworn in while in Cuba.
March 4, 1857 Inauguration of James Buchanan East Portico, U.S. Capitol Roger B. Taney Unknown[31] James Buchanan’s Inaugural Address First inauguration known to have been photographed.
March 4, 1861 First inauguration of Abraham Lincoln East Portico, U.S. Capitol Roger B. Taney Lincoln Bible opened at random[31] Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address Procession surrounded by heavily armed cavalry and infantry (war imminent).
March 4, 1865 Second inauguration of Abraham Lincoln East Portico, U.S. Capitol Salmon P. Chase Bible open to Matthew 7:1, Matthew 18:7,Revelation 16:7[35] Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address Blacks participated in parade for the first time.
April 15, 1865 Inauguration of Andrew Johnson
(Extraordinary inauguration)
Kirkwood House Hotel, Washington, DC Salmon P. Chase Third of eight Vice Presidents to assume Presidency upon the death of the President.
March 4, 1869 First inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant East Portico, U.S. Capitol Salmon P. Chase Unknown[31] Ulysses S. Grant’s First Inaugural Address Third inauguration not attended by outgoing president (Johnson remained at White House signing last-minute legislation).
March 4, 1873 Second inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant East Portico, U.S. Capitol Salmon P. Chase Bible open to Isaiah 11:1-3[36] Ulysses S. Grant’s Second Inaugural Address Coldest March inauguration (16 °F at noon).
March 5, 1877 Inauguration of Rutherford B. Hayes East Portico, U.S. Capitol Morrison R. Waite Bible open to Psalms 118:11-13[36] Rutherford B. Hayes’s Inaugural Address Third inauguration to fall on a Sunday – switched to Monday.
March 4, 1881 Inauguration of James A. Garfield East Portico, U.S. Capitol Morrison R. Waite Bible open to Proverbs 21:1[36][37] James A. Garfield’s Inaugural Address First president to review the inaugural parade from a stand built in front of the White House.
September 20, 1881 Inauguration of Chester A. Arthur
(Extraordinary inauguration)
Arthur’s home
123 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY[38]
John R. Brady Fourth of eight Vice Presidents to assume Presidency upon the death of the President.
March 4, 1885 First inauguration of Grover Cleveland East Portico, U.S. Capitol Morrison R. Waite Bible opened at random by Chief Justice toPsalms 112:4-10[39] Grover Cleveland’s First Inaugural Address
March 4, 1889 Inauguration of Benjamin Harrison East Portico, U.S. Capitol Melville W. Fuller Bible open to Psalms 121:1-6[36] Benjamin Harrison’s Inaugural Address
March 4, 1893 Second inauguration of Grover Cleveland East Portico, U.S. Capitol Melville W. Fuller Bible open to Psalms 91:12-16 Grover Cleveland’s Second Inaugural Address
March 4, 1897 First inauguration of William McKinley In front of Original Senate Wing
U.S. Capitol
Melville W. Fuller Bible open to 2 Chronicles 1:10[40] William McKinley’s First Inaugural Address First inauguration recorded by a motion picture camera;
First President with glass-enclosed reviewing stand for the parade.
March 4, 1901 Second inauguration of William McKinley East Portico, U.S. Capitol Melville W. Fuller Bible open to Proverbs 16[36] William McKinley’s Second Inaugural Address First time House joined with Senate in inauguration ceremony planning.
September 14, 1901 First inauguration of Theodore Roosevelt
(Extraordinary inauguration)
The Ainsley Wilcox Mansion on Delaware Avenue inBuffalo, New York John R. Hazel Fifth of eight Vice Presidents to assume Presidency upon the death of the President.
March 4, 1905 Second inauguration of Theodore Roosevelt East Portico, U.S. Capitol Melville W. Fuller Bible open to James 1:22-23[36] Theodore Roosevelt’s Inaugural Address First inauguration with telephone lines installed at the Capitol.
March 4, 1909 Inauguration of William Howard Taft Senate Chamber, U.S. Capitol Melville W. Fuller Bible open to 1 Kings 3:9-11[36] William Howard Taft’s Inaugural Address First Lady accompanied for first time on ride from the Capitol to the White House following inauguration;
Blizzard required major effort to clear for parade.
March 4, 1913 First inauguration of Woodrow Wilson East Portico, U.S. Capitol Edward D. White Bible open to Psalm 119[36] Woodrow Wilsons First Inaugural Address Inaugural ball suspended for the first time since 1853 (upon Wilson’s request).
March 5, 1917 Second inauguration of Woodrow Wilson East Portico, U.S. Capitol Edward D. White Bible open to Psalm 46[41] Woodrow Wilson’s Second Inaugural Address First President to take the oath of office on Sunday.
First Lady accompanied for first time both to and from the Capitol;
First time women participated in the parade.
March 4, 1921 Inauguration of Warren G. Harding East Portico, U.S. Capitol Edward D. White Washington Bible open to Micah 6:8[36] Warren Harding’s Inaugural Address Fourth (and most recent) inauguration not attended by outgoing president;
First time a president rode to and from event in an automobile.
August 3, 1923 First inauguration of Calvin Coolidge
(Extraordinary inauguration)
The Coolidge Homestead inPlymouth Notch, Vermont John Calvin Coolidge, Sr. Sixth of eight Vice Presidents to assume Presidency upon the death of the President;
Sworn in by his father (a state notary public).
March 4, 1925 Second inauguration of Calvin Coolidge East Portico, U.S. Capitol William H. Taft Bible open to John 1[31] Calvin Coolidge’s Inaugural Address First inaugural ceremony broadcast nationally by radio;
First oath administered by a former president (as Chief Justice).
March 4, 1929 Inauguration of Herbert Hoover East Portico, U.S. Capitol William H. Taft Bible open to Proverbs 29:18[36] Herbert Hoover’s Inaugural Address First inaugural ceremony recorded by talking newsreel.
March 4, 1933 First inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt East Portico, U.S. Capitol Charles E. Hughes Bible open to1 Corinthians 13:13[42] Franklin Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address First morning worship service (St. John’s Church).
January 20, 1937 Second inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt East Portico, U.S. Capitol Charles E. Hughes Bible open to I Corinthians 13 Franklin Roosevelt’s Second Inaugural Address First held on January 20 (per 20th Amendment).
January 20, 1941 Third inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt East Portico, U.S. Capitol Charles E. Hughes Bible open to I Corinthians 13 Franklin Roosevelt’s Third Inaugural Address First and (per 22nd Amendment) only case of a 3rd term inauguration.
January 20, 1945 Fourth inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt South Portico, White House Harlan F. Stone Bible open to I Corinthians 13 Franklin Roosevelt’s Fourth Inaugural Address Oldest oath Bible (1686) and the only one written in a modern foreign language (Dutch);
This bible was used by FDR for all four of his oaths;
No parade or formal celebration (wartime restrictions);
First and (per 22nd Amendment) only case of a 4th term inauguration.
April 12, 1945 First inauguration of Harry S. Truman
(Extraordinary inauguration)
The Cabinet Room, White House Harlan F. Stone Seventh of eight Vice Presidents to assume Presidency upon the death of the President.
January 20, 1949 Second inauguration of Harry S. Truman East Portico, U.S. Capitol Frederick M. Vinson Bible open to Exodus 20:3-17 and Matthew 5:3-11[43] Harry S. Truman’s Inaugural Address First televised inaugural ceremony.[44]
January 20, 1953 First inauguration of Dwight D. Eisenhower East Portico, U.S. Capitol Frederick M. Vinson Washington Bible open to Psalm 127:1 and a West Point Bible open to II Chronicles 7:14[45] Dwight Eisenhower’s First Inaugural Address Broke precedent by reciting his own prayer after taking the oath, rather than kissing the Bible.
January 21, 1957 Second inauguration of Dwight D. Eisenhower East Portico, U.S. Capitol Earl Warren West Point Bible open to Psalm 33:12[46][47] Dwight Eisenhower’s Second Inaugural Address Inauguration held on Monday after Sunday oath.
January 20, 1961 Inauguration of John F. Kennedy East Portico, U.S. Capitol Earl Warren Closed family Bible[48][49] John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address First poet participation (Robert Frost);
First and only Catholic president;
First color televised inaugural ceremony.
November 22, 1963 First inauguration of Lyndon B. Johnson
(Extraordinary inauguration)
Air Force One, Dallas Love Field, Dallas, Texas Sarah T. Hughes Missal that belonged to President Kennedy[13][14] Last of eight Vice Presidents to assume Presidency upon the death of the President;
First and only presidential oath taken on an airplane;
First and only woman to administer oath (U.S. District Judge).
January 20, 1965 Second inauguration of Lyndon B. Johnson East Portico, U.S. Capitol Earl Warren Closed family Bible[31][50] Lyndon Johnson’s Inaugural Address First use of a bullet-proof limousine.
January 20, 1969 First inauguration of Richard Nixon East Portico, U.S. Capitol Earl Warren Bible open to Isaiah 2:4[42] Richard Nixon’s First Inaugural Address Oath taken on two Bibles (family heirlooms);
Three-faith prayer service.
January 20, 1973 Second inauguration of Richard Nixon East Portico, U.S. Capitol Warren E. Burger Bible open to Isaiah 2:4[51] Richard Nixon’s Second Inaugural Address
August 9, 1974 Inauguration of Gerald Ford
(Extraordinary inauguration)
East Room, White House Warren E. Burger Jerusalem Bible given to him by his son, Mike. Proverbs 3:5-6. Gerald Ford’s Inaugural Address Only Vice President to assume Presidency upon the resignation of the President;
First and only unelected vice president to succeed to presidency.
January 20, 1977 Inauguration of Jimmy Carter East Portico, U.S. Capitol Warren E. Burger Bible open to Micah 6:8[52][53] Jimmy Carter’s Inaugural Address First president to walk from the Capitol to the White House in the parade following the swearing-in ceremony;
First president to have been sworn in using his nickname.[54]
January 20, 1981 First inauguration of Ronald Reagan West Front, U.S. Capitol Warren E. Burger Family Bible open to 2 Chronicles 7:14[31] Ronald Reagan’s First Inaugural Address Warmest inauguration on record (55 °F at noon).
January 21, 1985 Second inauguration of Ronald Reagan Rotunda, U.S. Capitol Warren E. Burger Family Bible open to 2 Chronicles 7:14[31] Ronald Reagan’s Second Inaugural Address Coldest inauguration on record (7 °F at noon);
Inauguration held on Monday after Sunday oath.
January 20, 1989 Inauguration of George H. W. Bush West Front, U.S. Capitol William Rehnquist Washington Bible opened at random in the center and a family Bible on top opened to Matthew 5[31] George H. W. Bush’s Inaugural Address
January 20, 1993 First inauguration of Bill Clinton West Front, U.S. Capitol William Rehnquist Bible open to Galatians 6:9[31][55] Bill Clinton’s First Inaugural Address
January 20, 1997 Second inauguration of Bill Clinton West Front, U.S. Capitol William Rehnquist Bible open to Isaiah 58:12[56] Bill Clinton’s Second Inaugural Address First inauguration made available live on the internet.
January 20, 2001 First inauguration of George W. Bush West Front, U.S. Capitol William Rehnquist Closed family Bible[31][57] George W. Bush’s First Inaugural Address
January 20, 2005 Second inauguration of George W. Bush West Front, U.S. Capitol William Rehnquist Open family Bible; same one used in 1989 and 2001 open to Isaiah 40:31[31] George W. Bush’s Second Inaugural Address First live webcam of inaugural platform construction;
First inauguration with secure inaugural credentials;
First anti-counterfeiting security designed into the tickets;
Largest inaugural platform to date.
January 20, 2009 First inauguration of Barack Obama[58] West Front, U.S. Capitol John Roberts Closed Lincoln Bible[59] Barack Obama’s First Inaugural Address First black president;
Largest attendance of any event in the history of Washington, DC;
Highest viewership ever of the swearing-in ceremonies on the Internet;
First woman to emcee the ceremony (Sen. Dianne Feinstein);
First inaugural webcast to include captioning.
January 21, 2013 Second inauguration of Barack Obama [60] West Front, U.S. Capitol John Roberts Lincoln Bible and a Bible owned by Martin Luther King, Jr.[61] Barack Obama’s Second Inaugural Address Inauguration held on Monday after Sunday oath.
January 20, 2017 Inauguration of Donald Trump West Front, U.S. Capitol
(Scheduled)
John Roberts
(Scheduled)
Lincoln Bible and Trump’s childhood Bible Donald Trump’s Inaugural Address

 

8 Comments

  • Troy Day
    Reply January 18, 2017

    Troy Day

    William DeArteaga Jim Price No conspiracies. Just right! Street Preacherz Much curse needs to be broken in the streets of the land

    • Street Preacherz
      Reply January 18, 2017

      Street Preacherz

      I tell my friends here in city on their stop the violence marches, “You will never get the violence out of our streets until we get the violence our hearts”

  • Troy Day
    Reply January 18, 2017

    Troy Day

    Bro. Street Preacherz you aint too far from the truth. This nationa needs much prayer, preaching and even more deliverance

  • Street Preacherz
    Reply January 18, 2017

    Street Preacherz

    If it’s always somebody else sin or somebody else curse or somebody else pride we’ll be lost…

  • Troy Day
    Reply January 19, 2017

    Troy Day

    It’s a serious business that the church has not gotten into just yet

  • Street Preacherz
    Reply January 19, 2017

    Street Preacherz

    One dying man at time, that’s my prayer…

  • Reply January 20, 2018

    Scotty Searan

    You can’t be a Mason and a Christian at the same time

    • Reply February 8, 2019

      James Hail

      People usually fear that which they do not know or understand. An important point that some may not be aware is that an atheist cannot be a mason. Another is that masonry is not a religious but a fraternal organization.

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