The Pledge of Allegiance, attributed to socialist editor and
clergyman Francis Bellamy, was first published in 1892 in The Youth's
Companion, a children's magazine for which he worked.
The pledge was meant to echo the sentiments and ideals of Bellamy's cousin,
Edward Bellamy, an author of Looking Backward and other socialist utopian
novels, according to pledge expert John Baer.
Bellamy crafted it as a resonating oration to bolster the idea that the
middle class could fashion a planned political and social economy, equitable for
all, Baer said.
After a proclamation by President Benjamin Harrison, the pledge was first
used in public schools on Oct. 12, 1892, during Columbus Day observances.
The original wording was: "I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic
for which it stands: one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for
There were those who claimed The Youth's Companion editor James B.
Upham penned the famous pledge, but the U.S. Flag Association ruled in 1939 to
recognize Bellamy as the author.
The pledge has been changed a few times since. For Flag Day in 1924, "the
flag of the United States of America" was officially adopted as a substitution
for the phrase "my flag."
In 1954, the words "under God" were added, after a campaign by the Knights of
Columbus, a Catholic men's service organization, and other religious leaders who
sermonized that the pledge needed to be distinguished from similar orations used
by "godless communists."
The Pledge of Allegiance now 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."
The prospect of atomic war between world superpowers so moved President
Dwight D. Eisenhower that he directed Congress to add the two small but
"From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily
proclaim in every city and town, every village and every rural school house, the
dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty," Eisenhower wrote at
In 1988, the elder George Bush made the pledge a presidential campaign issue
after Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis vetoed a bill requiring teachers to
recite the pledge. Some Republicans sought to require a recital in Congress, but
House Speaker Jim Wright, D-Texas, soon casually and voluntarily started a
The Senate began reciting the pledge on June 24, 1999, after passing a
resolution at the urging of Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H.
There is some protocol when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Uniformed
military personnel face the flag and give the military salute. Civilians stand
at attention or place the right hand over the heart. Men traditionally remove
Baer, author of The Pledge of Allegiance: A Centennial History, said
more modifications can be expected.
"It's about time for another change to take place in the pledge. It's a
living document," Baer said.