Yesterday I searched for photos for a new video we are hoping to make soon. I came across this photo from a hotel in or near Dixon, Illinois, the town where Ronald Reagan spent several years of his boyhood. The hotel had murals and photos honoring the three presidents from Illinois: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Ronald Reagan.
I love the quote and noted how timely it is. It makes me think about the “keep between the ditches” ideas I wrote about earlier this week. Before I shared this quote with you, I wanted to be sure it was really a quote from Lincoln. I learned that it is true and that the story behind it is a beautiful one.
In 1864 black citizens of Baltimore honored President Lincoln with the gift of a Bible. The Bible is now housed at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. The inscription inside reads:
To Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, the Friend of Universal Freedom, from the Loyal Colored People of Baltimore, as a token of Respect and Gratitude. Baltimore, 4th July 1864
A small group of representatives gave the Bible to President Lincoln in person. A minister in the group, S. W. Chase, made this statement to the president:
MR. PRESIDENT: The loyal colored people of Baltimore have entrusted us with authority to present this Bible as a testimonial of their appreciation of your humane conduct towards the people of our race. While all others of this nation are offering their tribute of respect to you, we cannot omit suitable manifestation of ours. Since our incorporation into the American family we have been true and loyal, and we are now ready to aid in defending the country, to be armed and trained in military matters, in order to assist in protecting and defending the star-spangled banner.
Towards you, sir, our hearts will ever be warm with gratitude. We come to present to you this copy of the Holy Scriptures, as a token of respect for your active participation in furtherance of the cause of the emancipation of our race. This great event will be a matter of history. Hereafter, when our children shall ask what mean these tokens, they will be told of your worthy deeds, and will rise up and call you blessed.
The loyal colored people of this country everywhere will remember you at the Throne of Divine Grace. May the King Eternal, an all-wise Providence, protect and keep you, and when you pass from this world to that of eternity, may you be borne to the bosom of your Saviour and your God.
The quote I saw in the hotel in Illinois back in 2013 was President Lincoln’s reply to those who presented him with the Bible that day:
In regard to this great book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to men. All the good Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.
Thank you for sharing this great book with your children.
All Scripture is inspired by God
and profitable for teaching,
for reproof, for correction,
for training in righteousness;
so that the man of God may be adequate,
equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17