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Thursday, January 4, 2007

What about the Butler Bible?

NEWTON

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(Globe Staff Photo by David L. Ryan)

Gov. Deval Patrick was sworn in today at 12:20 p.m. with his left hand on the Mendi Bible, which was given to John Quincy Adams by the freed captives of the slave ship Amistad.

The Mendi Bible may be getting a lot of attention, but the Butler Bible has for years been passed along from one governor to the other.

Benjamin F. Butler, who was governor of Massachusetts in 1883 and 1884. Butler, who fought for the North in the Civil War, was apparently disturbed not to find a Bible in the governor's office when he arrived, so when he departed, he left behind a copy, which he inscribed as a "needed transmittendum to my successor in office to be read by him and his successor each in turn.''

Bonnie Foz of Newton is a great-great-granddaughter of Benjamin F. Butler.

"I'm really interested that Deval Patrick is choosing a (different) Bible, not for religious reasons, but for identification reasons, and to send a message about human equality and human dignity, which I think is great,'' Foz told the Globe's Political Intelligence blog. "But it may be that Butler's Bible will never be used again.''

The Butler Bible is one of the four symbols given by each governor to his successor, and Mitt Romney gave it to Patrick yesterday.

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