When George Washington took office as the first President of the United States on April 30th in 1789, he swore his constitutional oath on a Bible.
Since setting the precedent, nearly all presidents have also taken their oath on the Bible – one of few exceptions being when a Roman Missal was used instead.
When twenty seven people squeezed into the 16 square foot state room of Air Force One for the inauguration of Lyndon Banes Johnson following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Judge Sarah T. Hughes hadn’t brought a Bible with her.
A search began and at one point Lawrence F. O’Brien, an aide from the Kennedy administration, emerged from the President’s cabin with what was believed to a Bible: resting in a cardboard box still wrapped in cellophane, it was leather bound and embossed with a cross.
Unbeknownst to them however, the book was instead a copy of a Saint Joseph Sunday Missal. It’s exact origins are a mystery, although it’s believed it was a gift he received shortly before he arrived in Dallas during his trip in Texas as John F. Kennedy was the first Catholic president.
Today, the Missal used to swear in LBJ resides at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas.
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