'The Best Gift God Has Given to Man' | IFCJ
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'The Best Gift God Has Given to Man'

Abraham Lincoln (Photo: Mathew Brady, 1861)

Today we celebrate the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 1863 declaration by Abraham Lincoln that freed the slaves. In honor of this monumental moment in American history, we share a story of the African-American community's gratitude for President Lincoln, as well as Lincoln's gratitude for God's Word:

Lincoln biographer William E. Barton wrote that Mr. Lincoln “read the Bible, honored it, quoted it freely, and it became so much a part of him as visibly and permanently to give shape to his literary style and to his habits of thought.” When a delegation of African-Americans from Baltimore presented President Lincoln with a Bible in September 1864, he replied: “This occasion would seem fitting for a lengthy response to the address which you have just made. I would make one, if prepared; but I am not. I would promise to respond in writing, had not experience taught me that business will not allow me to do so. I can only now say, as I have often before said, it has always been a sentiment with me that all mankind should be free. So far as able, within my sphere, I have always acted as I believed to be right and just; and I have done all I could for the good of mankind generally. In letters and documents sent from this office I have expressed myself better than I now can. In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man.”

Rev. S. W. Chase spoke for the delegation that presented Mr. Lincoln with a Bible: “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.”

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