The Aitken Bible

The first English Bible printed in the United States was a financial failure. The American Revolution had interrupted trade with Britain, causing a scarcity of Bibles. So, in 1781, Philadelphia printer Robert Aitken petitioned the Continental Congress to sanction his translation. The Continental Congress never approved the printing of this ambitious project, but they did “recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States” and noted the “care and accuracy in the execution of the work.” When the war ended, less-expensive Bibles from Britain flooded back into the market, leaving Aitken tens of thousands of dollars in debt. The Aitken Bible—that made history but lost money—is one of the many popular artifacts at Museum of the Bible.

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