A Primary Source of the American Revolution

As a primary source of the American Revolution, the Aitken Bible connects to topics regarding the Revolutionary War. As educators teach about the Revolutionary War era, the Aitken Bible provides illustrations for topics addressed in state academic standards for Social Studies regarding the American Revolution.


Just as an educator who is teaching about the Declaration of Independence might use a poster of the Declaration to make a concept more concrete, an educator who is teaching about the American Revolution can use the Aitken Bible to make certain topics more tangible for their students.


Because the Aitken Bible has connections to the events of the Revolutionary War, historians call it “The Bible of the American Revolution.” This one Bible claims three remarkable titles: 1) the only Bible approved by the United States Congress, 2) the only Bible recommended to Americans by our Founders, and subsequently, 3) the first English Bible made in America (Journals of Congress, September 12, 1782).


Historical Significance

During the American Revolution, after a series of boycotts, when America placed an embargo against Britain, our supply of Bibles was cut off. To make matters worse, it was illegal to print the Bible in America, due to a British royal license on the King James Bible. For these reasons, America was running out of Bibles.


Into this crisis stepped a hero of American history, a Scottish immigrant who had become a Philadelphia printer, named Robert Aitken. Indeed, Aitken had risen to the heights of an appointed printer for the Journals of Congress (September 1776 to May 1778). Led by the spirit of independence in the culture, Aitken wrote a letter to our Founding Fathers in Congress seeking approval to publish the first King James Bible in America.


Our Founders gave their approval for Aitken to publish the first American Bible, replying that the members of Congress “highly approve the pious and laudable undertaking of Mr. Aitken, as subservient to the interests of religion.” In part, Congress did so to encourage the country’s economy through the printing industry, citing this Bible as “an instance of the progress of arts in this country.” In addition, our Founders gave their recommendation of Aitken’s Bible to "the inhabitants of the United States." The relevant records from the Journals of Congress are included in the Aitken Bibles we publish.


Bibles in Schools

Regarding Bibles in schools, it should be said that many school libraries already contain a copy of the Bible. However, both teachers and students may be unaware, because that version of the Bible is not tied to any teaching topic. So educators do not have a reason to teach with that Bible in the classroom, and students do not have a reason to look for that Bible in the library.


In addition, it should be noted that Bibles are in schools in Bible-as-history and Bible-as-literature courses. In fact, our Aitken Bibles will be used in a number of these classes. Yet, these courses are elective, meaning they are optional. First, they must be chosen by educators. Next, they must be chosen by students. Or they may not be chosen by either.


National and State Standards

Unlike the above examples of Bibles in schools, our work with the Aitken Bible is connected to the required teaching topic of the American Revolution. According to national guidelines, students should study the American Revolution three times. The first time is in elementary school, around the fourth grade. The second time is in middle school, around the eighth grade. And the third time is in high school, around the eleventh grade.


These national guidelines provide three times (elementary, middle, and high school) for educators and students to use "The Bible of the American Revolution" as they study the American Revolution per state academic standards for Social Studies. To demonstrate how the Aitken Bible as a primary source connects with state academic standards for Social Studies regarding the American Revolution, our teaching materials are made available in Section 2. Furthermore, selections of the Massachusetts state standards which we have annotated with references to our teaching materials are available in Section 3.