Posted on December 17, 2011 by SunHerald.com
While the nation was ripped apart by Civil War, the American Bible Society (ABS) endeavored to spread the word of God by passing out pocket Bibles to soldiers in the Union and Confederate armies. In December 1861, the ABS was printing, shipping and distributing 7,000 pocket New Testaments a day to soldiers in the field.
The ABS was founded in 1816 by clergy, educators, businessmen and national leaders who sought to provide and share the Holy Scriptures with everyone no matter their economic status or political persuasion.
The society was led by such luminaries as Elias Boudinot, president of the Continental Congress, and John Jay, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Other leaders of the ABS included presidents John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes and Benjamin Harrison. Francis Scott Key, who penned the “The Star-Spangled Banner” served as vice president of the ABS from 1817 until his death in 1843.
Even before the Civil War, the ABS was instrumental in getting Bibles to the masses. One of its first endeavors, in 1817, was to provide Scriptures for the sailors aboard the USS John Adams. Prior to the Civil War, they provided Bibles for Native Americans and placed the Scriptures in inns throughout the states.