History Podcasts

Who created the Pledge of Allegiance?

Who created the Pledge of Allegiance?

The Pledge of Allegiance has been used in the United States for over 100 years, yet the 31-word oath recited today differs significantly from the original draft. The idea of a verbal vow to the American flag first gained traction in 1885, when a Civil War veteran named Colonel George Balch devised a version that read, “We give our heads and our hearts to God and our country; one country, one language, one flag.”

Several schools adopted Balch’s pledge, but it was soon supplanted by a salute composed by Francis Bellamy, a Christian socialist and former Baptist minister. In 1892, while working for a magazine called “Youth’s Companion,” Bellamy was enlisted to write a new pledge for use in patriotic celebrations surrounding the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World. After puzzling over the project—he initially considered incorporating the French Revolution motto “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”—he penned an oath that read, “I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The Bellamy pledge gained popularity in public schools during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but it continued to undergo occasional tweaks and revisions. In 1923 and 1924, the National Flag Conference changed the wording to read, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.” In 1942, meanwhile, Congress officially adopted the pledge and decreed that it should be recited while holding the right hand over the heart. Before then, the pledge had included a so-called “Bellamy salute”—extending the right arm toward the flag with the hand outstretched—but with the rise of fascism in Europe, many had noted that the gesture too closely resembled a Nazi salute.

A final revision to the national oath came in 1954 during the Cold War. In response to lobbying by religious groups and fraternal organizations—and with the support of President Dwight D. Eisenhower—Congress passed a new bill that added the words “under God.” Despite occasional legal challenges from students and secular groups, the text of the Pledge of Allegiance has remained unchanged ever since.


A history of the Pledge of Allegiance

The St. Louis Park City Council's decision to stop saying the Pledge of Allegiance at its meetings has displeased critics who say the move is unpatriotic. At its most recent meeting Monday night, demonstrators protested the decision both inside and out of City Hall, many of them seeing the Pledge of Allegiance as being an essential part of being an American.

President Trump even weighed in on the issue on Twitter saying: "Outrage is growing in the Great State of Minnesota where our Patriots are now having to fight for the right to say the Pledge of Allegiance. I will be fighting with you!" (For the record, the St. Louis Park City Council has not proposed denying anyone's right to say the pledge.)

But even though the Pledge of Allegiance has become an ingrained part of American culture, how did it come to be? Here's a look at the history of the pledge.

How was the Pledge of Allegiance first created?

The original idea for a pledge first came about in 1885, when Civil War veteran Colonel George Balch wrote a version that said "We give out heads and our hearts to God and our country one country, one language, one flag."

But the the pledge that we know today was written by Francis Bellamy in 1891. Bellamy was a staff writer for the magazine Youth's Companion and was asked to write a new version of the pledge to use in a celebration for the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in America. It reads: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands — one Nation indivisible — with liberty and justice for all."

Are students required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance?

No. Although the pledge became a mandatory part of the school day in the 1930s, the Smithsonian Institution says that in 1943 the Supreme Court ruled that schools could not force students or teachers to recite the pledge. Most states still require schools to make time for it during the day, but participation is not required.

What's the etiquette around the Pledge of Allegiance?

During the Pledge of Allegiance, military personnel in uniform are required to salute. Other citizens place their right hand on their heart and it is customary to remove hats during the pledge.

Where is it required to say the Pledge of Allegiance?

Nobody appears to track all the places where the Pledge of Allegiance is still recited, but it's still common in city councils in Minnesota. According to the Star Tribune, Blaine, Brooklyn Center, Burnsville, Duluth, Eden Prairie, Mankato, Maplewood, Moorhead, Rochester, St. Cloud, St. Paul, Stillwater and Wayzata all include the pledge as part of city council meeting agendas, but Minneapolis and Edina do not.

Do immigrants have to recite the pledge to become citizens?

Yes. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, after the Oath of Allegiance, new citizens also recite the Pledge of Allegiance during naturalization ceremonies.


The Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth's Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.

In its original form it read:

In 1923, the words, "the Flag of the United States of America" were added. At this time it read:

In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words "under God," creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy's daughter objected to this alteration. Today it reads:

Section 4 of the Flag Code states:

The original Bellamy salute, first described in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, who authored the original Pledge, began with a military salute, and after reciting the words "to the flag," the arm was extended toward the flag.

At a signal from the Principal the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given every pupil gives the flag the military salute &mdash right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly, "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all." At the words, "to my Flag," the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, toward the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side.

The Youth's Companion, 1892

Shortly thereafter, the pledge was begun with the right hand over the heart, and after reciting "to the Flag," the arm was extended toward the Flag, palm-down.

In World War II, the salute too much resembled the Nazi salute, so it was changed to keep the right hand over the heart throughout.


How the Pledge of Allegiance Went from Marketing Ploy to Classroom Staple

Every American schoolkid can recite the Pledge of Allegiance by heart, even if they have no idea what "indivisible" means or they think the whole thing is a tribute to some guy named "Richard Stans."

The author of the Pledge, which was originally written as part of a patriotic marketing campaign, would likely be amazed that his 22-word statement — which did not include "under God" — remains a classroom staple more than 125 years after its creation.

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in the late 1800s, a time of tremendous social upheaval in the United States. Industrialization drew masses of people away from farms and into crowded cities while an unprecedented wave of immigrants, most of them penniless and uneducated, poured in from Europe. Like today, politicians and public opinion were split on the threat immigration posed to what it means to be "American."

In 1892, a former Baptist pastor named Francis Bellamy was working as an assistant editor at a magazine called the Youth's Companion, a national publication for kids and their parents. Bellamy was also a Christian Socialist, a group striving to create a more just and equitable society through Christian values. Bellamy believed that one of the best ways to "Americanize" and peacefully incorporate these waves of immigrants was through patriotic programs in the public schools.

The very idea of public schools hardly existed in America before the Civil War, says Charles Dorn, a professor of education at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine and co-author, with Randall Curren, of "Patriotic Education in a Global Age."

"The 1870s and 1880s were really the first time that people began thinking of public schools as a place where you can do things to create a better society," says Dorn. "For example, you can create more patriotic Americans if you get them when they're young and you start teaching them to be loyal to the United States."

Even though Bellamy was a fan of patriotism in public schools, he didn't write the Pledge of Allegiance with the notion that it would be recited daily by every school kid in America. His most pressing concern was selling magazines.

The Marketing of the Pledge of Allegiance

Bellamy and his bosses at the Youth's Companion wanted to capitalize on the upcoming Columbian Exposition, the 400th anniversary of Columbus' first journey to the New World. So, they teamed with patriotic civic groups like the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) to sell American flags to their subscribers, which numbered half a million nationwide.

The magazine also decided to print a patriotic program that schools could recite on Oct. 21, 1892, the national Columbian Celebration, and they tasked Bellamy with writing it. A Pledge of Allegiance was only one component of the program, which included parades, patriotic songs and tributes to Civil War veterans.

The magazine could have published an existing pledge of allegiance written in 1885 for the first Flag Day (June 14) celebration. That pledge, penned by George T. Balch, was already being recited in some schools, and read: "I give my heart and my hand to my country — one country, one language, one flag."

According to Dorn's book, Bellamy thought Balch's pledge was "pretty but childish" and decided to write something with more historical heft. Bellamy's original verse went like this:

Reflecting years later on his word choice, Bellamy said that the flag in his pledge represented the Republic, and Republic was a "concise political word for the Nation," a nation proven "indivisible" by the triumph of Lincoln and the Union cause in the Civil War. He was tempted to end the pledge with the slogan of the French Revolution: "Liberty, equality, fraternity," but decided it was "too fanciful."

"But we as a nation do stand square on the doctrine of liberty and justice for all," said Bellamy, according to The New York Times. "That's all any one nation can handle. So those words seemed the only roundup of past, present, and future.''

The Companion's marketing campaign was a roaring success. During the 1892 national Columbian Celebration, tens of thousands of public school students in New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. recited Bellamy's Pledge of Allegiance in unison. Afterward, school boards in towns across the country began incorporating the Pledge into their morning flag-raising ceremonies.

Along with reciting the Pledge, Bellamy instructed students to salute the flag using a hand gesture that modern readers would find flat-out shocking. The "Bellamy Salute," as it was known, directed that "the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, toward the Flag." In practice, the salute looked strikingly like the one favored decades later by Adolph Hitler. More on that in a minute.

Dorn says that in the decades after its publication, Bellamy's Pledge of Allegiance became wrapped up in nationalist sentiments. It's no coincidence, for example, that New York became the first state to mandate the recitation of the Pledge in 1898 exactly one day after the U.S. declared war against Spain. More state laws requiring the Pledge in schools were passed when America entered World War I.

"Under God" and Other Revisions

The Pledge of Allegiance underwent its first major revision in 1923, when delegates at the National Flag Conference, organized by the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, decided that "my flag" was too vague and could be misinterpreted by immigrants as the flag of their home country. First, they changed it to "the flag of the United States," and then a year later tacked on "of America" to clear up any and all confusion.

In 1942, Congress officially adopted the Pledge of Allegiance as part of the Federal Flag Code. Later that same year, Congress dropped the Nazi-esque Bellamy Salute and replaced it with instructions to place the right hand over the heart.

Finally, in 1954, after lobbying from the Catholic Knights of Columbus (and other groups) Congress added the words "under God" to the Pledge. The Cold War-era logic, Dorn says, was that U.S. schools were under the threat of infiltration by "godless Communists." Signing the change into law on Flag Day, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower said this inclusion would "strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource in peace or war."

At the time, there was no big dissent to adding "under God." But in subsequent decades, there have been lawsuits concerning whether this amounted to a government "establishment of religion," violating the Constitution's First Amendment. So far, the courts have disagreed.

Mandatory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools has been the subject of three Supreme Court cases.


Who created the Pledge of Allegiance? - HISTORY

Posted by Ashley L. on Dec 22, 2019

The History of the Pledge of Allegiance

Before today's version, there was a version that was created by Captain George T. Balch, a veteran of the Civil War and teacher of patriotism in New York City schools. Balch’s version, “We give our heads and hearts to God and our country one country one language one flag!” was embraced by many schools, DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution), and GAR (Grand Army of the Republic). This version was used until 1923 when the National Flag Conference opted to use today’s version.

Today’s pledge was created by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and Christian socialist, in August of 1892. Bellamy said that Balch’s pledge was “too juvenile and lacking in dignity.” Bellamy came up with the idea of a new pledge because he thought is was time “for a reawakening of simple Americanism.” Bellamy stated, "It was my thought that a vow of loyalty or allegiance to the flag should be the dominant idea. I especially stressed the word 'allegiance'. . Beginning with the new word allegiance, I first decided that 'pledge' was a better school word than 'vow' or 'swear' and that the first-person singular should be used, and that 'my' flag was preferable to 'the.'” He and some leaders thought that this Americanism should begin in public schools. Bellamy lobbied for all schools to have an American flag on display (and to be used in raising the flag each day) and to recite the Pledge while doing so. Bellamy originally wanted to use the words “equality” and “fraternity” but opted against it knowing that the state superintendents of education and his committed were against equality for women and Blacks.

The Pledge of Allegiance was first published in the September 8 th issue of The Youth’s Companion, a popular children’s magazine, as part of the National Public-School celebration of the 400 th anniversary of Columbus Day. The pledge that was published, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” was designed to be short and said within 15 seconds. His lobbying efforts were successful and on October 12, 1892, the Pledge of Allegiance was first recited in public schools.

Changes to the Pledge

In 1923, the National Flag Conference called for the words "my Flag" to be changed to "the Flag of the United States," so that new immigrants would not confuse loyalties between their birth countries and the US. The words "of America" were added a year later. Congress officially recognized the Pledge for the first time, in the following form, on June 22, 1942: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

In 1948, Louis Bowman, an attorney from Illinois, was the first to suggest adding “under God” to the pledge. Bowman said that the words “under God” were said by President Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address. It was not until February 7,1954 that the push the add “under God” to the pledge was successful. George MacPherson Docherty, a Presbyterian minister, gave a sermon based on the Gettysburg Address, entitled “A New Birth of Freedom,” while honoring Lincoln’s birthday with President Eisenhower present. Docherty argued that the country “might lay not in arms but rather in its spirit and higher purpose.” He also stated that “there was something missing in the pledge, and that which was missing was the characteristic and definitive factor in the American way of life" and cited that that Lincoln’s words “under God” as words that set the US apart from other nations. Enthusiastic about a conversation with Docherty after the sermon, Eisenhower followed Docherty’s suggestion and on February 8, 1954, Rep. Charles Oakman (R-Mich), introduced a bill to Congress that passed and Eisenhower signed into law on Flag Day, June 14, 1954.

Swearing of the Pledge is accompanied by a salute. The Balch salute, which accompanied the Balch pledge, was adopted in 1887 and instructed students to stand with their right hand outstretched toward the flag, the fingers of which are then brought to the forehead, followed by being placed flat over the heart, and finally falling to the side.

In 1892, Francis Bellamy created what was known as the Bellamy salute. The salute started with the hand outstretched toward the flag, palm down, and ended with the palm up. Due to the similarity between the Bellamy salute and the Nazi, Congress stipulated that the hand-over-the-heart gesture would replace the Bellamy salute.


Pledge of Allegiance

In 1892, America celebrated the “400th Anniversary” of Americas discovery by Christopher Columbus. To celebrate, a Baptist minister named Francis Bellamy decided to write these words: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Francis Bellamy

Francis Bellamy was the son of a Baptist minister, and grew up to be a Baptist minister. After graduating from Rochester Theological Seminary, he began his own church in Little Falls, New York. His congregation was mainly made up of factory workers, and he often welcomed the chance to preach and to help “solve” the problems of many workers.

In 1885, Bellamy left New York to preach to more workers in Boston. Bellamys church grew and was supported by the Baptist Social Union of Boston. People enjoyed his passionate sermons about “liberty, fraternity, and patriotism.” However, by 1891, Bellamys support was dwindling due to his being a “Christian Socialist,” and he resigned as minister once funds were not restored.

The Youth Companion

One of Bellamys Boston congregates was Daniel Ford. Ford was the editor of The Companion. He also became a friend and “advisor” to Bellamy. He gave him a job working with James Upham, who wanted American students to learn the importance of the flag and come to appreciate what it represents. His ultimate goal was to help students love their country even more.

With the coming of the 400th Columbus Day celebration, Uphams desire to create more of an appreciation for the American Flag became stronger. Children in America were already able to cite sections of important documents and had a firm, or at least, basic understanding of Americas founding. However, they did not necessarily learn much about the American flag and had no saying or way in which to salute it.

The flag had long been a well known symbol, but had recently become more of a focus since the beginning of the first “Flag Day” in 1885. Therefore, Upham asked Bellamy to create a formal salute for the children to recite on Columbus Day, 1892.

Writing The Pledge of Allegiance

Bellamy must have felt lots of pressure as he tried to write a patriotic salute to the nations flag. Even so, Bellamy was extremely patriotic, and he was determined to write an easy to remember yet memorable to salute.

As Bellamy wrestled with what to include and what not to include, one phrase was not debated. The phrase, “liberty and justice,” seemed inevitable. After all, America was founded by men who sought liberty and justice from a radical king. Also, the words “liberty” and “justice” appear in many of Americas most famous documents including the Declaration of Independence and The Preamble to the Constitution.

Despite his Christianity, Bellamy was not the one to pen “under God” into the pledge, and he also wrote “my flag” not “to the flag.” The original pledge, was “I pledge allegiance to my flag,” but in 1923 the words were changed to, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.” Perhaps the main reason was to point the focus away from self and more to the flag, and in 1954 the words “under God” were added due to “Communist threats.” Even so, the changes have not altered Bellamy nor Uphams intentions, which were to create a meaningful salute for America.

Reciting The Pledge of Allegiance

Bellamy did not just want the words to be spoken, he wanted them to be presented in a meaningful way. He gave specific instructions on how the pledge should be said. He noted that the students should stand straight, with “hands at side.” Upon the signal, they would give the flag “a military salute.” When the words “to my Flag” were spoken, hands would be lifted with palms up towards the flag.

Unfortunately, despite the popularity of the salute, the palms up turned into palms down. During World War II, the salute seemed too much like that of the Nazis. Therefore, it was decided the right hand would simply stay over the heart during the pledge.

The Pledge of Allegiance Today

The majority of Americans just know the pledge as a way to honor America. Most do not know that the hand was not always over the heart, that Congress did not “officially recognize” the pledge until 1942, that the name “Pledge of Allegiance was adopted in 1945, or that certain words were added or taken away as the years went by.

The fact that such a simple pledge can mean so much to so many, is amazing. In that regard, Bellamy did accomplish his goal of creating a “memorable salute.” Today, Americans take great pride in saying the pledge and recognizing such a meaningful symbol of America.

The pledge is recited during football games, national and local events, military gatherings, American holidays (4th of July, Veterans Day, Memorial Day), and at numerous events throughout the year. Despite the fact that Bellamy may not have been the most conservative fish in the pond, he truly created one of the most patriotic and meaningful salutes for the United States of America.


The Pledge versus the Oath

When George W. Bush became president last January, he struck a familiar pose. Raising his right hand before the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he swore to &ldquopreserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.&rdquo The oath serves to remind us that the United States is a constitutional republic with a federal system. The oath also reminds us that the Constitution is the cornerstone of the American system. The government is supposed to be bound by the Constitution. As such, government is not omnipotent but strictly limited to the functions and purposes enumerated in the Constitution. Legislation, regardless of how popular, is supposed to be consistent with it, and any laws that conflict with it are invalid.

Behind the Constitution are specific principles that America&rsquos Founders consciously held and promoted. Thomas Jefferson&rsquos Declaration of Independence is, for all practical purposes, the birth certificate of the United States. In it Jefferson outlined the principles of the Founders. These principles have a long and honorable history. (See my article &ldquoThe Declaration of Independence: It&rsquos Greek to Me,&rdquo Ideas on Liberty, August 2000.) But the Founders realized that it was impractical, and unnecessary, to expect the American people to understand that history and philosophy. The Declaration and the Constitution were all that Americans needed to understand. If the people were loyal to the Constitution, then the Republic was safe.

Of course there have been individuals who were opposed to the Founders&rsquo philosophy and opposed to a constitutional republic with limited powers. Almost from the beginning there were individuals who promoted a government of unlimited powers. They wanted the people to express their loyalty, not to the Constitution, but to the state.

The differences between the two ideologies is striking. If one swears an oath to the Constitution it implies limited government by definition. It also implies that individual rights are paramount in the American system of governance. But when one swears to support the government instead of the Constitution, those principles disappear.

Imagine if our elected officials, instead of swearing to uphold the Constitution, simply swore to support the government! At this point nothing the government does could be consistently challenged. There would be no limitations on the state or on its functions. Individual rights would be nonexistent. The entire philosophy of the Founders would be turned inside out. If one supports the Constitution, then individual rights are the foundation on which the enumerated powers of the government are based. If one, instead, swears allegiance to the government, then it is the foundation on which specific enumerated rights are granted. The first system supports a concept of natural rights that reside in the individual. The second is one of legal positivism, which says that rights are whatever the state grants.

The Founders wanted a government where the rights of the people come first. The function of government is simply to protect those pre-existing rights. Statism argues just the opposite. For the statist the government comes first and rights are privileges granted at the whim of the state. These two philosophies could not be further apart.

If we were to place in order the structure of the American system it would be:

The people and their natural rights. Individuals are endowed with certain rights that are theirs by nature. These include the rights to life, liberty, and justly acquired property.

The Declaration of Independence. This manifesto set out the basic beliefs of America&rsquos Founders regarding rights and the nature of government.

The Constitution of the United States. This document, based on the principles clearly enunciated in the Declaration, established the method of proper government. It was not intended to explain the philosophy of government but only outline how it should operate. Powers were strictly enumerated while rights were not.

The Republic. The end result of all of this would be the American Republic itself.

The president-elect and our elected officials do not swear an oath to the Republic but to the Constitution. The Constitution is the cause, the Republic the effect. If the Constitution is ignored, then the Republic is lost. Support for the Republic that does not include fidelity to the Constitution leads to a loss of both the process and the outcome.

Pledge of Allegiance

Why is it, then, that so many American schoolchildren are required to swear allegiance to the flag and the Republic &ldquofor which it stands&rdquo rather than the Constitution? Millions of children start each school day with the Pledge of Allegiance: &ldquoI pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.&rdquo Wouldn&rsquot we be much safer as a Republic if the children learned to respect the Constitution? If we were to place the flag in the hierarchy above, it would follow the Republic. The flag is a symbol of the Republic. It seems odd to pledge allegiance to the flag and to the Republic while ignoring both the Declaration and the Constitution.

To understand why this reversal took place we need to look at the history of the Pledge of Allegiance itself. Most of us grew up with the Pledge, and we probably assumed that it was always part of the American culture. But that is not true. Even the current version is relatively new. The phrase &ldquounder God&rdquo was not in the original version it was added only in 1954. The Pledge itself doesn&rsquot go back farther than the 1890s. It&rsquos a child of the socialist Progressive movement.

It was during the late 1800s that, for the first time, widespread advocacy of socialism and statism became popular in the United States. Numerous authors wrote novels promoting these doctrines. Among those novels were Ignatius Donnelly&rsquos Caesar&rsquos Column and Edward Bellamy&rsquos Looking Backward. Bellamy wrote of a futuristic America where socialism reigned. In its first year of publication, 1888, the book sold 100,000 copies and eventually topped a million in print it was translated into 20 languages. As a work of American fiction it was surpassed in the nineteenth century only by Uncle Tom&rsquos Cabin and Ben Hur.

John Dewey, the great advocate of government schooling and a socialist, called Bellamy his &ldquoGreat American Prophet&rdquo and said: &ldquoWhat Uncle Tom&rsquos Cabin was to the anti-slavery movement Bellamy&rsquos book may well be to the shaping of popular opinion for a new social order.&rdquo In fact Dewey took many of his socialist ideas for education and indoctrination from Bellamy. Historian John Baer said that Dewey &ldquowas ready to advocate Edward Bellamy&rsquos type of education and to reform American society through &lsquoprogressive education.&rsquo&rdquo Dewey was keenly interested in the Soviet Union and wrote articles praising the educational system imposed by the communists. (The material from Baer comes from his book The Pledge of Allegiance: A Centennial History, 1892-1992.)

In Looking Backward the main character, Julian West, falls asleep in 1887 only to awaken in the year 2000. He finds an America where the means of production are owned by the state and everyone earns equal income. Jobs are assigned by the government to citizen-conscripts, who must work for the state from the age of 21 until retirement at 45.

Edward Bellamy, along with his cousin Francis Bellamy, were the two major spokesmen for what they called &ldquoNationalism,&rdquo by which they meant the nationalization of all industry under state control. Across America some 167 Nationalist Clubs were formed. In 1889 one of the Boston Nationalist Clubs formed an auxiliary called the Society for Christian Socialists. According to Baer, &ldquoThe principles [of the Society] stated that economic rights and powers were gifts of God, not for the receiver&rsquos use only, but for the benefit of all. All social, political and industrial relations should be based on the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, in the spirit of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Capitalism was not based on Christian love but on selfish individualism.&rdquo

Francis Bellamy became the vice president in charge of education for the Society. Other prominent members included Francis Willard, the leader of the Women&rsquos Christian Temperance Union, and W.D.P. Bliss, a well-known minister.

The Bellamy cousins came from a long line of Baptist clergymen. Their grandfather had been a top aide to &ldquoThe Great Awakening&rdquo evangelist Jonathan Edwards. Francis Bellamy was a seminary graduate and an ordained Baptist minister who openly preached socialism from the pulpit. But this led to conflicts with his congregation. One member, however, was enthusiastic about Bellamy&rsquos socialist principles: Daniel Ford, editor of the religious publication The Youth&rsquos Companion. Ford also was founder of Boston&rsquos famed Ford Hall Forum.

Loyalty to the State

After Bellamy was relieved of his ministry, Ford offered him a position with his magazine. Together they continued to work with various advocates of socialism and decided that a program was needed to teach American youth loyalty to the state. They realized that the individualist tradition in America did not lend itself easily to the &ldquopatriotism&rdquo needed for the socialist state of Looking Backward.

Ford and Bellamy contacted the National Education Association (NEA), which was then headed by William Torrey Harris. Harris, according to Baer, &ldquobelieved in a state controlled public education system. As the leading Hegelian philosopher in the United States he believed that the State had a central role in society. He believed youth should be trained in loyalty to the State and the public school was the institution to plant fervent loyalty and patriotism. Like many other American educators of his time, he admired and copied the Prussian educational system.&rdquo

A staunch opponent of private education, Harris wanted public education centralized in every way possible and used his influence to work toward that goal. He was unhappy that local education made it difficult to exploit the schools to indoctrinate children into accepting their proper role in society. His goal was shared by the Nationalist Clubs. The Lynn, Massachusetts, club persuaded the state legislature to require attendance at school until 15 years of age and to increase the school year from 20 to 35 weeks. John Taylor Gatto, an outspoken critic of government education, notes that Harris was one of the main proponents of using government schooling to indoctrinate and not educate. Gatto, in a speech on education, &ldquoConfederacy of Dunces: The Tyranny of Compulsory Education,&rdquo quotes Harris: &ldquoNinety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom.&rdquo Gatto continues: &ldquoThis is not an accident, Harris explains, but the &lsquoresult of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual.&rsquo&rdquo

It is obvious why Harris was happy to join Bellamy&rsquos crusade. In 1892 Harris got the NEA to support a National Public School Celebration, which would promote loyalty to both the state and its schools. It was decided that they would promote an agenda written by The Youth&rsquos Companion. The NEA asked Bellamy to be the chairman of the celebration. At the main event he gave a speech that showed the importance of public education in the task of political indoctrination. He told the audience, &ldquothe training of citizens in the common knowledge and the common duties of citizenship belongs irrevocably to the State.&rdquo Bellamy, like his cousin, wanted to use government schools to help promote a socialist agenda. He felt that one way of encouraging this agenda would be the teaching of state loyalty. To this end he wrote a pledge, which students across the country were asked to take. With a few minor changes this pledge is what is now called the Pledge of Allegiance. (According to Black&rsquos Law Dictionary, &ldquoallegiance&rdquo is an &ldquoObligation of fidelity and obedience to government in consideration for protection that government gives.&rdquo)

Bellamy attempted to accomplish several goals with his Pledge of Allegiance. He saw it as a means of inculcating support for a centralized national government over the federalist system of the Founding Fathers. He was particularly troubled by the idea that the individual states formed the federal government, fearing that secession from the union might be seen as legitimate after all. He kept in mind the &ldquoOath of Allegiance,&rdquo which was forced on the South after the Civil War. Baer quotes Bellamy as saying: &ldquoThe true reason for allegiance to the Flag is the &lsquorepublic for which it stands.&rsquo . . . And what does that vast thing, the Republic, mean? It is the concise political word for the Nation&mdashthe One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove. To make that One Nation idea clear, we must specify that it is indivisible, as Webster and Lincoln used to repeat in their great speeches.&rdquo

Ford&rsquos Youth&rsquos Companion first published Bellamy&rsquos Pledge on September 8, 1892, in its original format: &ldquoI pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.&rdquo Bellamy&rsquos widow said he lamented that he couldn&rsquot use the motto of the French Revolution, &ldquoliberty, fraternity, and equality,&rdquo instead. He was tempted to use the phrase, but thought that it was &ldquotoo fanciful&rdquo and that its use was &ldquothousands of years off in realization.&rdquo

The Youth&rsquos Companion actively promoted the Pledge and loyalty to the government. At the time it was uncommon for a school to fly a flag outside its premises that practice was almost exclusively associated with military bases. But during its campaign The Youth&rsquos Companion sold thousands of flags for use at public schools.

Baer says Francis Bellamy acknowledged that his Pledge put forth the ideas of cousin Edward. Francis originally toyed with the idea of making the Pledge more openly socialistic, but decided that if he did so it would never be accepted.

The reason that elected officials swear an oath to the Constitution is clear. And the reason that Francis Bellamy wrote his pledge is also clear. Bellamy&rsquos goal was not to inculcate the values of Jefferson and Adams. Instead, his desire was to promote the socialist utopianism of his cousin Edward.

The U.S. Constitution is anathema to socialists of all types. It is a roadblock to be circumvented. That Edward Bellamy understood this can be seen in his comparison of the written U.S. Constitution and the unwritten English one: &ldquoEngland&rsquos Constitution readily admits of constant though gradual modification. Our American Constitution does not readily admit of such change. England can thus move into Socialism almost imperceptibly. Our Constitution being largely individualistic must be changed to admit of Socialism, and each change necessitates a political crisis&rdquo (quoted in Rose L. Martin, Fabian Freeway, p. 136).

The British Fabian socialist Ramsay MacDonald came to the same conclusion after a visit to the United States. In a speech printed in the February 1898 Fabian News he said: &ldquoThe great bar to progress [in the United States] is the written constitutions, Federal and State.&rdquo

When an oath for schoolchildren was being contemplated the socialists knew exactly what they were doing.


5 facts about the Pledge of Allegiance

Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court – the state’s highest court – will hear arguments today in Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, a case in which an anonymous atheist couple is challenging the use of the phrase “under God” in recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools. The plaintiffs, represented by the American Humanist Association, are appealing a lower court ruling that went in favor of the school district.

With the school year getting underway around the country, here are five facts about the Pledge of Allegiance and its legal history:

The original version of the Pledge of Allegiance did not include the words “under God.” The patriotic oath – attributed to a Baptist minister named Francis Bellamy and published in a children’s magazine in September 1892 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to America – read: “I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Congress added “Under God” to the Pledge in 1954 – during the Cold War. Many members of Congress reportedly wanted to emphasize the distinctions between the United States and the officially atheistic Soviet Union.

The children of the plaintiffs in the Massachusetts case – like all Americans – cannot be required to recite the Pledge or any specific part of it. That was made clear in a 1943 U.S. Supreme Court decision, West Virginia v. Barnette, in which Justice Robert Jackson wrote: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.”

In 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted a case (Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow) that challenged the use of “under God” in the Pledge, but the high court did not rule on the question of whether the Pledge is constitutional under the First Amendment. Instead, a five-justice majority said that atheist Michael Newdow did not have legal standing to bring the case on behalf of his daughter because he did not have legal custody of her. Standing is a legal concept that only those with a legitimate stake in a case’s outcome can be a party to a lawsuit.

The current Massachusetts case challenges the Pledge from a different perspective than did Michael Newdow, who argued that “under God” in the Pledge violates the prohibition on the establishment of religion in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. According to the Religion News Service, the plaintiffs in this new case are arguing that the recitation of the pledge discriminates against non-believing students and thus violates the guarantee of equal rights contained in the Massachusetts Constitution.


The history of legal challenges to the Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance to the United States' flag has been part of American life for generations, but not without some constitutional controversy.

The pledge has existed in some form since September 1892 Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow , the Supreme Court did not end up ruling on the legality of the words &ldquounder God&rdquo in relation to the First Amendment. Instead, Justice John Paul Stevens said Newdow didn&rsquot have standing to bring suit because he lacked sufficient custody over his daughter.

But Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O&rsquoConnor and Clarence Thomas wrote separate concurrences, stating that requiring teachers to lead the Pledge, despite the inclusion of the phrase, &ldquounder God,&rdquo was constitutional.

A similar challenge to the Pledge was denied by two federal appeals courts in 2010, which ruled &ldquothat the Pledge of Allegiance does not violate the Establishment Clause because Congress&rsquo ostensible and predominant purpose was to inspire patriotism&rdquo and &ldquoboth the choice to engage in the recitation of the Pledge and the choice not to do so are entirely voluntary.&rdquo

Two recent legal challenges also targeted state constitutions, and not the U.S. Constitution, for guidance about using the words &ldquounder God.&rdquo

In 2014, the Massachusetts case Jane Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District involved a group of parents, teachers and the American Humanist Association in an action against a school district. The group claimed the Pledge requirement, including the use of the words &ldquounder God,&rdquo violated the equal protection clause of the state&rsquos constitution. The state Supreme Court didn&rsquot agree.

Also in 2014, a New Jersey family and the American Humanist Association filed a similar lawsuit against the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District, seeking to eliminate the use of the words &ldquounder God&rdquo from Pledges taken at public schools. The school district said that it was just following a New Jersey state law that requires schools to have a daily recitation of the Pledge, and that individual students weren&rsquot forced to take part. In February 2015, a judge ruled in favor of the school district.

An event in 2019 drew attention to the ability of states to require students at public schools to get parental permission before opting out of the pledge, when a sixth-grade student was arrested in a pledge dispute. That case was dropped in March 2019, but the incident harkened back to Frazier v. Winn, a 2008 lower court decision that the U.S. Supreme Court did not take on appeal.

In that case, the 11th Circuit Appeals Court upheld Florida&rsquos statute requiring parental permission as constitutional. &ldquoAlthough we accept that the government ordinarily may not compel students to participate in the Pledge, e.g., Barnette, we also recognize that a parent's right to interfere with the wishes of his child is stronger than a public school official's right to interfere on behalf of the school's own interest,&rdquo the federal court said. &ldquoMost important, the statute ultimately leaves it to the parent whether a schoolchild will pledge or not.&rdquo

Scott Bomboy is the editor in chief of the National Constitution Center.


Steve's Soapbox

Karen Gavis suggested in her Saturday letter ("The words in the pledge") that some people might want to "dig up this country's Founding Fathers and put dunce hats on their heads."
For the record, the motto "In God we trust" first appeared on the short-lived 2-cent coin in 1864, and the addition of "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance was made in 1954. So if someone is to be unearthed and displayed with dunce hats, it wouldn't be the Founding Fathers.
I find myself wondering if these same people would protest if Muslims became a majority and voted for the words "one nation under Allah" as part of the pledge.
It was for this reason that the Founding Fathers (Thomas Jefferson, in particular) came up with the concept of separation of church and state. The majority should not impose its beliefs on the rest of the population. Why is that so difficult?

Barney C. Boydston
----------
From the first through eighth grades, I recited the pledge first thing in the morning, facing a flag, hand over heart. The pledge took on special meaning in December 1941, when we kids actually started to think about the words as we said them.
The flag itself brought Betsy Ross and George Washington to mind. We knew, or were told, the meaning of republic -- a special place where citizens choose their leaders by voting, a gift from those fellows who wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence and created the Constitution. Abraham Lincoln spoke to us through "one nation, indivisible."
When I was in college, the words "under God" were inserted and separated "one nation" and "indivisible."
On the rare occasion when I spoke the pledge, I skipped those words -- not because I objected to them for any religious reason, but simply because they interfered with the rhythm.
Somehow, President Eisenhower's voice was interrupting Lincoln's. But I guess we all liked Ike so much that we went along with it.
Like a good dad, he and Congress were trying to inoculate us against communism. They probably never thought that those words might offend non-Christian citizens, whose philosophies called God something else, or saw him differently.
But they needn't have worried, because the last six words of the pledge -- "with liberty and justice for all" -- are enough. If we can all pledge ourselves to them, God won't mind if the word God is left out. The pledge is full of him it always has been.

When I learned the pledge (a long time ago), it flowed from "one nation" to "indivisible."
It served the United States well during World War II, when our country was truly "one nation indivisible." Inserting the words "under God" between "one nation" and "indivisible" completely changed the meaning of the pledge and divided the people rather than uniting them.
One of the reasons that the Pilgrims and other early settlers left their homes and came to America was a longing for religious freedom. We shouldn't allow their dreams to be destroyed by denying religious freedom to some of our citizens.
The wall between church and state must be preserved if the dreams of our ancestors are to be fully realized.
The words "under God" should be removed, returning the pledge to its previous content and meaning.


Watch the video: Preschool Pledge of Allegiance - LittleStoryBug (November 2021).