In one of the clips, Cameron interviews David Barton while looking at some of Barton’s truly impressive collection of old Bibles. Cameron asked Barton about a two-volume, folio-sized Bible, which Barton says was printed in 1798. Barton tells Cameron that “This Bible was funded by about a dozen signers of the Constitution and signers of the Declaration as well as by President John Adams and Vice-President Thomas Jefferson. They’re the guys that put up the financial backing to do this Bible.” Barton also refers to this Bible in his new book, The Jefferson Lies, where he says, “[Thomas] Jefferson personally helped finance the printing of one of America’s groundbreaking editions of the Bible.” There he repeats the same claim about the signers financing the 1798 Thompson Hot Press Bible.
It is not true that a dozen Founders went together to put up the “financial backing” for the Thompson Bible. John Thompson and Abraham Small announced in the Gazette of the United States on April 25, 1796, the completion of the first section of their Bible which they described as “the most beautiful production of its nature hitherto seen.” They offered their Bible to the public with a plan to print the Bible in 40 sections to be delivered “every two weeks.” Subscribers paid 50 cents a section, totaling $20 for the completed Bible. After the subscribers received their printed pages, they still needed to get them bound at additional cost.
Barton told Cameron that the Bible was the product of the Founders who “wanted the Word of God out to every family.” In truth, over 1270 people subscribed, including about a dozen Founders (but not including Adams on any of the three subscribers’ lists that I have seen) to purchase a Bible for their own use. Jefferson did buy one but he didn’t finish paying for it until 1799, months after the Bible was completed; hardly a great way to help finance a printing effort.
Barton then shows Cameron a copy of the very rare Aitken Bible, the first Bible printed in English in the United States. Barton says that Congress printed the Bible, which is simply not true. Robert Aitken printed the Bible at his own expense and when he was nearly finished, wanted Congress to sanction it. The extent of Congressional committee action was to ask the Chaplains to verify the accuracy of Aitken’s work which they did. Barton told Cameron that Congress said the Bible was “a neat edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use in schools.” However, Congress did not say that. ...