The Bible in America

History From its founding in 1816, the American Bible Society has grappled with the task of making the Word of God available to Christians and churches in America. From its earliest days, it has worked to provide scriptures to the men, and later women of the military, to local and international bible societies, and to translate the Holy Bible to other languages used by peoples in the United States so that they could not only possess scripture, but could understand its importance in their own lives.

Leaders Starting with a leader of the American Revolution, Elias Boudinot, John Jay, first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and going right down to the most recent president Lamar Vest, The American Bible Society has always been led by “true believers” in the Bible cause.


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Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen

President of the American Bible Society, 1884-1885

Church Affiliation: Reformed Dutch

Theodore Frelinghuysen was born 4 August, 1817, the son of Frederick Frelinghuysen, but when he died in 1820, was adopted by his uncle, Theodore Frelinghuysen, the 5th President of the American Bible Society.

Photo of Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen

Born Millstone, New Jersey, August 4, 1817; Graduated from Rutgers College in 1836; Admitted to the bar in 1839 and practiced in Newark, New Jersey; Married Matilde E. Griswold in 1842; City attorney of Newark in 1849 and a member of the city council in 1850; Trustee of Rutgers College, 1851-1885; Representative of New Jersey at the peace congress held in Washington, DC, in 1861; Attorney General of New Jersey, 1861-1866; Senator from New Jersey, 1866-1869 and 1871-1877; Was one of the so-called “Stalwarts”; Desired the impeachment of Andrew Johnson; In 1870 declined Grant's appointment as Minister to Britain (preferring to educate his children in America); Member of the Electoral Commission of 1877 to decide the contested presidential election of 1876; Resumed the practice of law; Secretary of State in President Arthur's Cabinet  December 19, 1881, and served until March 6, 1885; As Secretary of State fostered commercial relations withGermany and France and closer ties with Latin America through reciprocal trade agreements, sent delegates to the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 on the Congo, and opened treaty relations with Korea;

The Bible Society Record notes the following upon his death.

Black and White Portrait of Frederick Frelinghuysen from a color portrait by William Henry Hyde

“Although his election to the presidency of the Society took place only six months fefore, Mr. Felinghuysen's name had been on the list of Vice-Presidents for twenty-one years, and his interest in the Society's work had been evinced in many ways. At the anniversary of 1851, he made an eloquent address in support of a resolution ‘that the Bible is worthy of the support of all, and especially of the American patriot.’”

In the longer notice in the June, 1885 edition, the Bible Society Record reports:

Tribute to the Memory of Frederick T. Frelinghuysen.

The late President of the American Bible Society, Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, of New Jersey, was a member of the distinguished family whose virtues and services, from generatin to generation, illustrate the annals of the State and adorn the history of the Replublic. His great grandfather, the Rev. John Frelinghuysen, came from Holland in 1720 and ministered to the Dutch settlers in Somerset and Middlesex Counties. His grandfather, Frederick Frelinghuysen, was a delegate from New Jersey to the continental Congress in 1775, 1778, 1779 and 1782. He served as captain and colonel in the Revolutionalry army, and by appointment of Washington as brigadier-general against the western Indians in 1790, and filled the seat of United States Senator from 1793-1796. His uncle, Thoedore Frelinghuysen, was attorney-general of New Jersey (1817, 1829), the United States Senator (1829-1833). He was Chancellor of the University of the City of New York and a candidate for the Vice-Presidency on the ticket with Henry Clay. He was identified with foreign missions, the Tract Society, the temperance movement, and in 1846 was elected President of the American Bible Society and held the position until his death.

Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, whom we now mourn, was the nephew and adopted son of Theodore, and was born on the 4th of August, 1817. He graduated at Rutgers College in 1836, and was admitted to the Bar in 1839. In 1861 he was a member of the Peace Congress, where he displayed marked ability. The same year he became attorney-general of New Jersey; and he soon became distinguished also as a prominent political leader. In 1866 he resigned the office of attorney-general to accept a seat in the United States Senate. In July, 1870, Mr. Frelinghuysen was nominated to President Grant and confirmed by the Senate as Minister to England, but the appointment was declined. In January, 1871, he was elected to the Senate and held the seat until 1877, serving as one of the three Republican members of the Senate on the Electoral Commission. In December, 1881, by the appointment of President Arthur he succeeded Mr. Blaine as Secretary of State. While filling this high office Mr. Frelinghuysen, on the 6th day of November, 1884, was unanimously elected President of this Society, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Dr. S. Wells Williams. The announcement of his election was made to Mr. Frelinghuysen by a special committee, one of whom, our lamented friend Charles Tracy, has gone before him.

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