Robert Aitken

Robert Aitken (1734-1802) was a Philadelphia printer and the first to publish a Bible in the newly formed United States. The war with Britain cut off the supply of Bibles to the United States with the result that on September 11, 1777, the Continental Congress instructed its Committee of Commerce to import 20,000 Bibles from "Scotland, Holland or elsewhere." On January 21, 1781, Aitken petitioned Congress to officially sanction a publication of the Old and New Testaments (the King James Version) which he was preparing at his own expense. Whereupon it was resolved that the members of Congress "highly approve the pious and laudable undertaking of Mr. Aitken, as subservient to the interest of religion ... in this country, and ... they recommend this edition of the bible to the inhabitants of the United States." This resolution was a result of Aitken's successful accomplishment of his project.

Religion and the Congress of the Confederation, 1774-89 (Library of Congress exhibition)

History of the Aitken Bible