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Inauguration Day Bibles: how presidents choose, and what that reveals (+ video)

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Mr. Obama has left nothing to guesswork on this point. The choice of the Lincoln and King Bibles is “fitting,” he said in a video statement on Friday, “because their actions, the movements they represented, are the only reason that it’s possible for me to be inaugurated.” 

“Me stating before the entire country that I will uphold my oath of office while at the same time letting them know that there’s a connection between me being there and the sacrifices of those of the past, I think it’s entirely fitting,” he added.

The King Bible, on loan from the King Center in Atlanta, was Dr. King's "traveling Bible," heavily annotated and used in preparing sermons and speeches. It has never been used previously in a presidential inauguration.

The Lincoln Bible, used during Lincoln's first inauguration, had not been used again until Obama chose it for his first inaugural. Lincoln had no previous ties to the book. Facing assassination threats, Lincoln entered the capital for his first inaugural in secret and in haste, under the guard of Pinkerton detectives. His luggage, including the family Bible, had not yet caught up with him en route from Springfield, Ill. The faded burgundy velvet Bible – 5.9 inches long, 3.9 inches wide, and 1.8 inches deep – was one of several like it on hand at the US Supreme Court for use on such occasions.

The White House says President Obama will not be opening this Bible for the oath. It's too fragile to open easily or to lay flat.

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