The American Tract Society was founded in 1825 "to promote the interests of vital godliness and sound morality by the circulation of religious tracts calculated to receive the approbation of all Evangelical Christians." Within a few years of its founding, the Society was producing millions of pieces of Gospel literature-tracts, booklets, books, magazines, and Bibles. But a distribution system was needed to get the literature to the people for whom it was intended. A system of traveling Christian literature salesmen [colporteurs] was enlisted by the Society, and they took the literature into the streets, homes, and churches of America. Thus an "army" of colporteurs traveled across the country in the 19th century selling and distributing the Society's literature, leading worship services, and counseling with those they met. During the Civil War, efforts were undertaken by the Society to provide the Union army with religious reading materials and Bibles. In fact, beginning in 1869 the Society presented Bibles to all the entering cadets at the West Point Military Academy, a practice which continues today.
Bible, 1862 - This Centennial Library copy of the New Testament, published by the American Tract Society, was printed in New York in 1862 during the Civil War. The Society initiated efforts to distribute religious literature and Bibles to the Union Army during the war.
Biblical Heritage Gallery, Cedarville University, American Tract Society