The Bible and American History

Shortly after declaring America’s independence, Congress commissioned the printing of a Bible


“Prior to the American Revolution, the only English Bibles in the colonies were imported either from Europe or England. Publication of the Bible was regulated by the British government, and an English language Bible could not be printed without a special license from the British government. Because English language Bibles could not be printed in America but had to be imported, when the Revolution began and the British began to blockade all materials coming to America, the ability to obtain such Bibles ended. Therefore, in 1777, America began experiencing a shortage of several important commodities, including Bibles. On July 7, a request was placed before Congress to print or import more, because “unless timely care be used to prevent it, we shall not have Bibles for our schools and families and for the public worship of God in our churches.

Four years later, in January of 1781, Robert Aitken (publisher of the Pennsylvania Magazine in Philadelphia) petitioned Congress for permission to print an English-language Bible on his presses in America rather than import the Bibles.  Congress gave Aitken a ringing endorsement in the form of a congressional resolution to ‘publish this Recommendation in the manner he shall think proper’ to help sell and circulate the Bible.”