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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William Henry Allen

President of the American Bible Society, 1872-1880

Church Affiliation: Methodist Episcopal

Portrait of William Henry Allen

William Henry Allen was first and foremost and educator and an educational leader. He served over the years as an instructor at the Oneida Methodist Conference Seminary, as principal of an Augusta, Maine high school, in many instructional and leadership positions at Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA), president of Girard College (Philadephia, PA), and president of the Pennsylvania Agricultural College.

William Henry Allen was born in Readfield (now Manchester), Maine on March 27, 1808, son of Jonathon and Thankful (Longley) Allen. He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1833. He was married 4 times but 3 of his wives died young and he was only survived by a daughter. He died in Philadelphia on August 29, 1882.

In noting his service, the Bible Society Record of 1880 included the full text of his letter of resignation, quoted here.

Black and White Portrait of William Henry Allen

“Gentlemen: - I am warned by the infirmities of age to resign the Presidency of the American Bible Society, which I have had the honour to hold during eight years. I cannot consent to occupy longer a chair the duties of which I am not able to discharge. I am indebted to the Board, and to every one of its members and officers, for uniform kindness and courtesy, for which I tender sincere thanks. My interest in th work of the Society is undiminished, and as a life director, I hope to meet occasionally with the Board of Managers. We change and pass away, but ‘the word of our God endureth for ever.’
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
William H. Allen”

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