The First Bible Printed in New Jersey

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Posted at This Day in Presbyterian History:

The First Bible Printed in New Jersey, by George S. Mott, D.D.

[excerpted from The Encyclopedia of the Presbyterian Church, by Alfred Nevin (1884), p. 930]:—

As early as the beginning of the last century [i.e., the early 1700s] laws existed in some of the colonies requiring every family to be furnished with a Bible. This supply continued to be kept up by individual exertion until the meeting of the first Congress in 1777. To that body a memorial was presented on the Bible destitution throughout the country. This memorial was answered by the appointment of a committee, to advise as to the printing of an edition of thirty thousand Bibles. The population of the colonies then was about three millions, and all the Bibles in the entire world at that time did not exceed four millions. This committee reported that the necessary materials, such as paper and types, were so difficult to obtain, that to print and bind thirty thousand copies would cost £10,272, 10s., and in their judgment was impracticable. But they recommended the following:

“The use of the Bible being so universal, and its importance so great, to direct the Committee on Commerce to import, at the expense of Congress, twenty thousand English Bibles from Holland, Scotland, or elsewhere, into the different ports of the States of the Union.” The report was adopted and the importation was ordered.

In 1781, when the continuance of the war prevented further importation, and there was no telling how long this obstruction might be protracted, the subject of printing the Bible was again urged on Congress, and the matter was referred to a committee of three. On their recommendation the following action was taken:–
“Resolved, That the United States, in Congress assembled, highly approve the laudable and pious undertaking of Mr. Robert Aitken, of Philadelphia, as subservient of the interests of religion, and being satisfied of the care and accuracy of the execution of the work, recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States.”

This was on September 12th, 1782.

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