tv American Artifacts The Bible in America 1700- 1960s CSPAN August 5, 2021 12:12pm-12:43pm EDT
up next on american artifacts in the second of a two-part tour of the museum's bible in america exhibit, we pick up in the 1700s during what's known as the great awakening. >> in the early 17 hundreds, many felt spirituality of america was declining. for some church was a routine obligation. but traveling preachers of the first great awakening challenged that routine. the wandering preachers brought the bible back. and george whitfield was the rock star of his time. >> i can see him, here he comes. >> although your bodies are on earth, your souls and hearts are in heaven. by your faith and constant revelation, like the blessed angels, you hold the face of your father which is in heaven.
>> the second section of our tour deals with the rebirth or awakening of the bible in america and has an amazing story unto itself. >> things that you're looking at in this case are original sermons of important pastors of the time period, what cary talked about, the great awakening. the interesting story about jonathan edwards, he wasn't one of the dynamic, flamboyant type of pastors, he would stand and present the sermon, but according to history, people would fall under great conviction. basically from 1730 up until after the signing of declaration of independence, there was a great spiritual awakening, great awareness of presence of god or to have relationship with god. also sermons presented by george whitfield.
george whitfield was very controversial in his style of preaching, so many times he wasn't allowed or invited to preach in churches. he had this field pulpit, he would set it up and start preaching. >> it is undeniably certain, we must receive the holy ghost, err we can't be styled true member of christ's mystical body. >> so we enter to this particular era in the museum, you're going to see a lot of interesting technology that we're using and helps us tell the story, some drama that we created, but in a very different way, and many people would expect it to be done, and we brought in some symbolic items again like replica of the liberty bell. this came from the same foundry that did the one in philadelphia.
and some would say well, i mean, why have this one, the one in philadelphia is there. but we have so many foreign visitors and people, americans who will never go to philadelphia and they want to see what that was all about. it also as the text says here, inscription from book of leviticus, declaring liberty throughout the land, engraved on the bell itself. one of our basis for this floor, not just bible in america but bible globally is the bible is all around you and you don't even realize how much it affected our lives, things that we say, cliches that we use
today. a leopard cannot change its spots. that's a biblical text. an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. biblical text. we share those on this particular floor. the liberty bell is a great one to look at because again it has, represents the bible in a very different way. and that's what we tried to show. >> the liberty bell was actually donated to the museum of the bible by dr. peter loback, president of westminster theological and president of providence forum as well. it was produced in recognition of the 300th anniversary of william penn great liberty of conscience. it made a trip around the united states, the bell was running in all 50 states in recognition of the liberty of conscience. and then sat in a warehouse a few years, not sure how long. we got a phone call asking if we would like to have this bell for the museum.
what's interesting and cool about it, it was produced at the white chapel foundry, the same foundry the first one was produced at. pass and stow of philadelphia, exact replica, except for the crack. that's a laser beam crack. other than that, it rings in the same key or peels in e flat as the liberty bell in philadelphia. we have rung it here twice now. >> this section of our museum takes on the topic of liberty, declaration of independence, sort of the struggle there and some of the key documents that were in play at that time. so norm, why don't you share a couple of these with us. >> this is one of my favorite cases in the exhibition. often ask what's your favorite artifact. it is really not fair because we have so many cool things here to look at, but one of the things i
would talk about is when the colonists first came to the new world, they were not allowed to print bibles in the english language. the crown held the right to english text. all bibles, geneva, king james bible, catholic bibles would come from europe or from the crown, if you will. when we declared our independence in 1776, the import of product from london ceased. it was brought to congress' attention we have a lack of english bibles. one of the colonial printers, robert aitken, presented the idea to produce an english text here in america. so first in 1777 he would produce an english new testament, new testament from king james bible. so the crown is still holding rights to this text, would basically make him an outlaw or outlaw printer.
but there are only two of the first english new testaments printed in america in existence. one at the new york library, or you can come to museum of the bible and see this one here. in 1782, robert aitken would present an entire bible. this bible was reviewed by chaplains of congress, then passed on from congress to congress itself and reviewed, in which they gave robert aitken permission to print this bible. so this would be the first complete english bible ever printed in america. the only bible to receive congressional authorization to be printed by robert aitken. aitken knowing the crown literally held the rights to the english text included the congressional authorization in each and every one of the bibles. if you were a united states citizen at the time, knowing it was forbidden to own a bible not produced by the crown, you could see your government allowed you
to be able to own this particular bible. so not only did he include that in the text, we included the original congressional authorization showing you that congress did indeed, word for word he included in his text. one of the things i find amusing about this bible, he tells you where to find him. three doors down from the coffee shop. there was only one starbucks at the time in philadelphia. i find that amusing. you find the coffee shop, you can find the print shop. if you look at this authorization, you see the name charles thomson. to me, he is one of america's unsung heroes. he is the first secretary of the continental congress, and he signs the authorization from robert aitken to print the bible.
when charles thomson retires, he was a greek scholar himself, so he himself would produce the first english bible translated in america from the greek. this would make charles thomson not only the first secretary of continental congress, he also was the signatory that showed authorization of john hancock's signature on the declaration of independence, he helped design the great seal of the united states, and then he would become the very first united states citizen to print or translate a bible in america. he is a pretty interesting fellow, he was. >> as we continue our journey, you're looking at several of our screens. these take on various debates of history.
>> there was among the 12 apostles, one traitor betrayed with a kiss. if should be no wonder therefore among so many thousand true patriots as new england contains, this should be even 12 judases, ready to betray the country for a few pieces of silver. >> they speak of that submission which we owe to it, they put christians in mind that civil government was the order and institution of god himself. that by disobeying legal government, we disobey god. >> this one deals with the concept of submission or betrayal. again, that was a big topic in that time when america was sort of paving their own course. which way are we. are we submitting to the rule or betrayers of it, and there was a
lot of argument going on. we have taken those topics on here, not only in film but also in documents you read here also. >> speaking of jefferson, over here this is known as the jefferson bible lives and morals of jesus christ. there's only one jefferson bible where he would use the french, greek, english and would do a cut and paste from gospel. the original at smithsonian institute. in 1904, the government print house started to print what we know as the jefferson bible. from 1904 up to 1950, every freshman senator and congressman would receive a copy of this imprint here, one of the 1904 editions. as we travel along throughout the impact of the bible in america, you'll see the
transition in our tapestry, leaving from 1700s, and come out to another very important event in american history which is the history of abolitionism. the story here, we have again artifacts that complement the tapestry itself. in the center we have the emblem of the newspaper that was produced by welcome lloyd garrison, known as the liberator. and william lloyd garrison's newspaper which we have an example of here was so controversial that the south had put a bounty on him for $5,000 if you would kill him. then of course we also have harriet beatrice stow, author of uncle tom's cabin. an interesting fact what she said, she didn't write it but she took dictation. and here, we have a copy of first edition of uncle tom's cabin, as well as the liberator newspaper, implemented 25 years
for the sole purpose of supporting the move of the abolitionist movement. and you'll see the image of john brown and frederick douglass. and we have the first edition works of the biography of frederick douglass as well. and behind you one of my favorite artifacts is down here on the bottom of the case. and it is known as the beacher's bible. her father henry beecher was a staunch abolitionist as well. he took sharp rifles, put them into a case and would ship them to kansas in support of the abolitionist movement.
this isn't an exact quote but close to it. henry ward beecher said if he can't convince slave owners through the word of god that enslavement of the african people was wrong, perhaps he could convince them by looking down the barrel of a rifle. so he would pack these up, put them on a train, marked them as bibles so you wouldn't be sus -- suspicious as they were transported to kansas. >> he talks about formation of the american bible society which today is still largest in the world, even though there are bible societies in virtually all countries, the american bible society is still the largest and helps fund other bible societies
around the world. many of the founding fathers were members of the american bible society and were officers of the bible society. supreme court justices were. it's a great story. >> the chief justice, john jay, was a member of american bible society. charles thomson who we talked about with the first american citizen to translate a bible to the english language, he was a member of the american bible society. and elijah boudinot. this is known as an ordination certificate. he was the first methodist bishop to come to america. as important as asbury, he spoke about the emancipation and freeing of slaves as far back as the first president.
and he's also up on the tapestry as well. again, the artifact complements the story as you walk through. here we have bibles within the collection in museum of the bible, cherokee, choctaw, black foot, various translations. not all of them translated to complete bibles. we have new testament, gospel, songs, sometimes the complete bible was translated to reach the indigenous people. these were produced by american bible society. three of many that came out from their missionary work. >> then as we said earlier, the anti-slavery, pro-slavery continues today. here again, bibles created to be pro-slavery. norm, i know there's one here you might want to talk about. >> harriet tubman. the moses of her people.
most of us hopefully know the story about harriet tubman and the underground railroad. if you look at the case, you notice it is against slavery and works that are for slavery. and again, as cary was mentioning, they used the bible to justify their cause. we have the works or story of harriet tubman, and over here where en elliott, he uses a book, called cotton is king, but it is in support why we should have continuation of slavery. we're telling both sides of the story. from the beginning, i remember cary saying he wanted to tell the good, the bad, the ugly, wanted to give a fair story how the bible was used in the founding of america. >> you see hanging on the walls throughout this bible in america
area a tapestry that we had woven. we have been told it is the longest tapestry woven in the u.s., 274 feet. it was designed by an artist who lives off maine, an island off maine. many believe it was a screen that was painted. this is a woven tapestry. everything in here was reviewed by many scholars, even the kind of buttons used, the hat used, the roof on the buildings that we showed. so the whole museum on this side takes this tapestry, we cut it into pieces, showing from the mayflower, now moving up to modern days, all reflected in this tapestry. it is great because a lot of kids don't really have a lot of interest looking at bibles, and
we have a lot of foreign visitors who we translate into ten languages, but we have over 100 countries who visited already, so they can walk through here and get some idea of a story through the pictorial that we've done. so now we're coming to a section which is fascinating. i'm asked what are your favorite items in the museum. with 3100 on exhibit, and inventory of almost 100,000 to pick from that we curate, it is hard to say there is one. but it is this one here. julia howe ward who wrote a poem at 2:00 in the morning at the willard hotel. and as she says in her own
words, she took a stub of a pencil by the candlelight that was available to her and she wrote down what she says god gave her to write down. she showed it to her daughter the next morning and it was all scripture she had written down, but it formed a poem. and her daughter said mom, you should have this published. this is really good. so they did. they took it to a publisher and he published it. she created what we call today the battle him -- hymn of the republic. that one piece of paper she wrote, now considered one of the most sung hymns in the united states ever, we own. what you're looking at here is the original letter she wrote. in this area, we had music that goes with amazing grace and the
battle hymn of the republic and other pieces of music that represent the struggle that was going on. so this is one of my favorites because it is a very unique story. many don't realize the words themselves are all taken from biblical text she said she was given to write down. now when you sing that song, you'll recognize it and listen to the words as we say and you'll hear the bible being quoted in her song. >> while we're focusing on the tapestry, you'll notice there's a break here throughout the entire tapestry. this is symbolic. then up here, we have one of the battles of the civil war, we have elizabeth katie stanton who translated a bible, what's known
as the woman's bible, and abraham lincoln, but one of the highlighted -- this is really a cool case because not only does it have the original manuscript of juliet ward howe, battle hymn of the republic, but actually has a bible presented and given to abraham lincoln by a group of african americans from baltimore, in appreciation of his signing of the emancipation proclamation, they presented this bible to him. this would have been a very, very expensive bible. the emancipation proclamation is riddled with many biblical references as well. so really cool and dynamic case inserted here, what's known as confederate states new testimony. similar to what happened when america declared independence, the english ceased to supply america with goods. same thing happened from the north and south. what was established was confederate state bible society. this is the first new testament
printed from the confederate when he was reordered to take the tower he asked the company commander, he said can i get some grenades. and captain harington said you can have whatever you want. so he told him go get me all the grenades you can locate. so bob tells the story when we got up there he said i had a direct line of sight into the tower. >> found out an hour or two ago found out billy graham had passed away, he is a strong, influential person in america, not only for spiritual principles he brought us but support of the civil rights movement as well.
he was invited to preach at one of the revival sermons at madison square garden. and he insisted that there would be no segregation, no separation, and that all would sit amongst each other. so he was a great supporter. we have been fortunate the billy graham library has graciously lent to us a new testament that belonged to billy graham that he highlighted, annotated, and used to prepare sermons with. again, not only was he a civil rights advocate for the african americans, but also for the indigenous people. he reached out, fought for their equal rights as well. in recognition of that, three tribes came together and presented him with this indian headdress. i want it to be known that it is on loan to us by the billy graham library. today being the day he passed, we wanted to make sure we have a
special recognition of who he was and what he contributed to not only museum of the bible but the world. you'll notice that this last dedication area is the story of civil rights, and a good portion of this is dr. martin luther king. it is illustrating him and his speech of i have a dream and 1963 that he gave here in washington, d.c. then we have ebony magazine which devoted the entire magazine to the story of martin luther king jr. and is signed by coretta scott king. >> we have been open approximately four to five months when you see the show today. and we found interesting statistics. average drive distance to get here is a little over 300 miles.
we asked have you ever been to washington, d.c. amazing, not majority, but amazing large number, i've never been to washington. what are you going to do when you come to washington? we're coming to the bible museum. are you doing other things? if we have time. the point is what we're finding, especially with not only just americans but tourists coming into washington, which about 15% to 20 are not americans, they're coming into the u.s. for a tour and are in washington, d.c. museums. and they pop in here. so we're finding there's great curiosity about the bible, no matter what faith you are. we have many pick a faith, it is not like somebody wanders in of a particular faith, they usually
come as a group and all leave saying wow, i didn't know that. those that could be classified as catholic or protestant or jewish, they leave saying wow, i learned things i never knew before, or wow, man, i had a wrong idea about that. and they can probe as deep as they want. we have 72 hours of content here. so if you want to spend nine eight-hour days, hopefully you find what you're looking for. if you want somebody to interpret the bible, we're not the best place to go. if you want to hear about it, impact of it, see why is it so important, we are the place. weekends on c-span2 bring
you the best in history and nonfection books. we'll feature two programs on gerald ford, the only white house occupant who was never elected vice president or president. he took office 47 years ago this month after president nixon's resignation. first, a visit to the ford presidential museum. then a profile of his wife, betty ford, who was honored for her life's work. featured speakers include the landscape historian and the former first daughter. among the hotel's notable residents sylvia plath, grace
kelly and the future nancy reagan. book tv features leading authors. on sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern adam serwer reflects on trump's america. his latest book "the cruelty is the point." ben shapiro discusses his new book the authoritarian moment. he's interviewed by eric metaxes. watch american history and book tv on c-span 2.
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