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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Luther Bradish

President of the American Bible Society, 1862-1863

Church Affiliation: Protestant Episcopal

Black and White Portrait of Luther Bradish

Luther Bradish was born in Cummington, Massachusetts, September 15, 1783, son of Col. John and Hannah (Warner) Bradish. He Graduated from Williams College in 1804 and married Helen Elizabeth Gibbs in 1814, and after her death married Mary Eliza Hart in 1839. He was admitted to the NY bar and served as a volunteer in the War of 1812. He was sent by President Monroe and then Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams to negotiate a trade treaty with the Ottomon Empire, but that treaty was dealyed by the Greek Revolt.

According to the Bible Society Record (from his long obituary, published February, 1864) “At Constantinople, Mr. Bradish spent five or six months, and succeeded in preparing a way for a treaty with the Porte, although meeting a stong jealousy there from the ministers of European powers. With the single exception of Russia all these representatives exerted themselves to prevent the establishment of amicable and commercial relations between the United States and Turkey. They viewed with marked desapprobation the encroachment of the Amnericans on their old monopoly of this profitable trade. Mr. Bradish, however, ascertained the friendly feelings of the Turkish government toward our government, and suggested to the administration the best method of procedure. His views were followed by Gen. Jackson, the President and Mr. Va Buren, secretary of state, and afterward successfully carried out by Mr. Charls Rhind in the early part of Gen. Jackson's administration. This favourable treaty was duly ratified by the two governments.”

Following his stay in Constantinople, Mr. Bradish was the guest of the celbrated Mohammed Ali Pasha, viceroy of Egypt, who provided him an escort to Jerusalem. It is speculated that he may have been the first American to visit the Holy City.

In 1827, he became a member of the NY Assembly, and served as its speaker in 1838. He was Lieutenant Governor from 1838-1842. In 1842, he was nominated as the Whig candidate for governor of New York, but was defeated. President Fillmore appointed him Assistant Treasurer for New York. From 1842-1844 he was president of the New York Historical Society. He was elected president of the American Bible Society in October, 1862 and served until his death on August 30, 1863.

Luther Bradish was a great traveller, visiting, in addition to the places already mentioned in the Ottomon Empire, much of the Mediterranean, including Smyrna, Malta and Gibraltar, and additionally the West Indies, South America, England, Scotland, Ireland, the uper cataracts of the Nile, the Red Sea, Beirut, Adrianople in Bulgaria, Hungary, Vienna, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France, Holland, Denmark, and even Moscow and St Petersburg in Russia.

Like most of the leadership of the American Bible Society, Mr. Bradish was a passionate abolitionist. He was taken to task in a blatantly racist, anti-whig broadside for his quote in the NY assembly, “I think there should be no distinction on account of complexion.”