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How George Washington's Bible Survived 9/11: 100 Bible Verses That Made America

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
September 12, 2023 3:00 am

How George Washington's Bible Survived 9/11: 100 Bible Verses That Made America

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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September 12, 2023 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, George Washington’s Bible was on loan to a famous Revolutionary War tavern just blocks from the World Trade Center on 9/11. Just as the search for bodies ended, the search for the Bible began… 

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Take it away, Robert. Two or three years ago, when I was in New York City, I spent a day in lower Manhattan in the area around Wall Street. Within just a few blocks, I searched out some of America's greatest historical sites. The Brooklyn Bridge now spans the East River at a spot very close to where George Washington's Revolutionary Army escaped disaster during a remarkable nighttime evacuation.

Nearby is France's Tavern, where Washington later met with his generals after the war. Five minutes later, I was gazing at the Statue of Liberty. Nearby is Fulton Street, the origin of a powerful 1857 religious revival that spread over the United States. And at the end of Fulton Street is the 9-11 Memorial Museum. So much history within just a few blocks. And don't forget the nearby federal building, the site of America's first presidential inauguration.

The old federal building that Washington knew no longer stands, but the newer federal building that now stands on the spot contains a small museum. And there I saw Washington's inaugural Bible. I thought of the springtime day in 1789 when Washington placed his hand on the Bible, took the oath of office, and then bent over and reverently kissed the Bible in full view of the great assembled crowd. That Bible has been preserved and four other presidents have borrowed it for their own inaugurations. Warren Harding, Dwight Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W.

Bush. George W. Bush wanted to use Washington's Bible, but his inauguration was threatened by rain and no one wanted to risk damaging its hallowed pages. Only once has Washington's Bible faced the prospect of destruction on September 11, 2001. It was on loan to the aforementioned France's Tavern Museum in Lower Manhattan when terrorists destroyed the nearby twin towers of the World Trade Center. For two days, no one knew if Washington's Bible had escaped ruin. The area was sealed off as rescue workers searched for survivors. Finally, on September 13, police officers and an unmarked cruiser entered the area accompanying the custodians of the Bible.

The air was still thick with dust and smoke and the tavern was strewn with rubble, but the building itself seemed unharmed. Inside, untouched and unscathed, was Washington's inaugural Bible. The Bible, after all, in its essential nature, is an indestructible book.

For millennia, its critics have tried to ban it, burn it, and bar it from those who want it or need it. Still, the Bible endures as the central book of human literature, as the centerpiece of spiritual life, and as the compelling document that shaped the United States of America. George Washington came from a family of devout Christians. His father was active in the Anglican Church and his mother, Mary Bell Washington, was godly and strong-willed, and she was an enthusiastic teacher of scripture to her son. Washington's wife, Martha, was a devout believer in Christ. And furthermore, Washington brought up his children, who were actually his stepchildren, on explicitly Christian textbooks, on prayer books, and Bibles with their names gilded upon them. Washington's stepson, George Washington Park Curtis, who was known as Wash and raised at Mount Vernon, said, On Sundays, unless the weather was uncommonly severe, the president and Mrs. Washington attended divine services at Christ Church, and in the evenings the president read to Mrs. Washington in her chamber a sermon or some portion from the sacred writings. Washington also used a variety of terms of reverence and respect to describe Jesus Christ.

In the ornate language of the day, he called Jesus the divine author of our blessed religion, our gracious redeemer, the great lord and ruler of the nations, the judge of the hearts of men, and the giver of life. A later president, Calvin Coolidge, said, The foundation of our society and our government rests so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt said something very similar as he addressed the Long Island Bible Society just weeks before being thrust into the presidency. Roosevelt said, A large number of people tend to forget that the teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally, I do not mean figuratively, I mean literally impossible for us to figure out to ourselves what that life would be like if these teachings were removed. President Franklin Roosevelt said, We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a nation without reckoning with the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the Republic. The best way to keep America strong is to know her history, to honor her roots, to preserve her legacy, and to cherish the eternal God who in his Providence placed this continent between two shimmering seas and who in his goodness provided a book that became her moral and intellectual foundation.

And a terrific job on the production, editing, and storytelling by our own Greg Hengler. And a special thanks to Robert Morgan, who's the author of 100 Bible verses that made America. And the story of Washington's Bible, I did not know that it was missing in action, but to be discovered and of all places, Francis Tavern is just remarkable.

The story of the Bible and its role in American history here on Our American Stories. Here at Our American Stories, we bring you inspiring stories of history, sports, business, faith, and love. Stories from a great and beautiful country that need to be told, but we can't do it without you. Our stories are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love our stories in America like we do, please go to our American stories.com and click the donate button. Give a little, give a lot. Help us keep the great American stories coming.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-03 01:11:13 / 2023-10-03 01:16:08 / 5

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