First American Bible Printed in English
The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments.
Philadelphia: Robert Aitken, 1782. (Prothro B-39)
When America declared its independence from Britain at Philadelphia in 1776, America’s printers were no longer bound by the Royal Patent prohibiting the production of English Bibles in the colonies. In 1781–82 Robert Aitken (1735–1802) of Philadelphia printed an inexpensive octavo edition of the King James Bible and presented samples to the Continental Congress. According to the Journal of Congress for September 12, 1782, an extract of which was reprinted as the Bible’s preface, Congress voted to “recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States and hereby authorize [Aitken] to publish this Recommendation in the manner he shall think proper.”