Pledging to the Flag

From Whitney Smith, jr's entry in The World Book Encyclopedia, Chicago: Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, 1973.

PLEDGE TO THE FLAG is a solemn promise of allegiance to the United States. It reads:

I 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.

Public-school children first recited the pledge as they saluted the flag during the National School Celebration held in 1892. President Benjamin Harrison had called for patriotic exercises in schools to mark the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America. Francis Bellamy (1855-1931) of Boston, an associate editor of The Youth's Companion, wrote the original pledge. The National Flag Conferences of the American Legion expanded the original wording in 1923 and 1924. In 1942, Congress made the pledge part of its code for the use of the flag. In 1954, it added the words "under God."

Here's what the World Book people left out:

Francis Bellamy was a Baptist minister who was, in fact, the Vice-President of the Society of Christian Socialists. Bellamy was firmly against capitalism. Indeed, he argued government could and must do far more for the working people; his very specific argument was that a socialist can still be a super-patriot and - not to put too fine a point on it - must be a patriot. He did not believe in the violent overthrow of the government. He was not a totalitarian Communist by any means. Bellamy later became an advertising executive, quite well known for an article he presented titled "Jesus as a Socialist."

"Fraternity" and "Equality" are included in the original version of the Pledge. They were removed (rather than "expanded") by the American Legion just after the Korean Conflict.

The World Book people did not include a biography of Bellamy, referring interested readers to the above entry alone.

[John W. Baer's Pledge Page] opens a new window
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