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Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

the history of the "Pledge of Allegiance"?

The complete History of the "Pledge of Allegiance"

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  • 1 decade ago
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    The Pledge of Allegiance was written for the popular children's magazine Youth's Companion by Christian Socialist author and Baptist minister Francis Bellamy on September 7, 1892. The owners of Youth's Companion were selling flags to schools, and approached Bellamy to write the Pledge for their advertising campaign. It was marketed as a way to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus arriving in the Americas and was first published on the following day.[1]

    An excerpt from the September 8, 1892 Youth's Companion with the original Pledge of Allegiance (the full page is available from firstmention.com/Documents/pledge1.jpg )..

    Bellamy's original Pledge read as follows: I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, and was seen by some as a call for national unity and wholeness after the divisive Civil War. The pledge was supposed to be quick and to the point. Bellamy designed it to be stated in 15 seconds. He had initially also considered using the words equality and fraternity but decided they were too controversial since many people still opposed equal rights for women and blacks. Bellamy said that the purpose of the pledge was to teach obedience to the state as a virtue.[citation needed]

    After a proclamation by President Benjamin Harrison, the Pledge was first used in public schools on October 12, 1892 during Columbus Day observances. This date was also significant as it was the dedication day of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. Bellamy thought that the pledge itself and the involvement of children across the country would be a fine show of national solidarity.

    In 1923 and 1924 the National Flag Conference called for the words my Flag to be changed to the Flag of the United States of America. The reason given was to ensure that immigrants knew to which flag reference was being made. The U.S. Congress officially recognized the Pledge as the official national pledge on December 28, 1945.

    Official versions (changes in bold italics)

    1892

    “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands: one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”

    1892 to 1923

    "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all."

    1923 to 1954

    "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."

    1954 to Present

    "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."

    In 1940 the Supreme Court, in deciding the case of Minersville School District v. Gobitis, ruled that students in public schools could be compelled to recite the Pledge, even Jehovah's Witnesses like the Gobitases (whose name was misspelled as 'Gobitis' in the court case), who considered the flag salute to be idolatry. In the wake of this ruling, there was a rash of mob violence and intimidation against Jehovah's Witnesses. In 1943 the Supreme Court reversed its decision, ruling in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette that "compulsory unification of opinion" violated the First Amendment.

    Students reciting the pledge on Flag Day in 1899Before World War II, the Pledge would begin with the right hand over the heart during the phrase "I pledge allegiance". The arm was then extended toward the Flag at the phrase "to the Flag", and it remained outstretched during the rest of the pledge, with the palm facing upward, as if to lift the flag.

    An early version of the salute, adopted in 1892, was known as the Bellamy salute. It also ended with the arm outstretched and the palm upwards, but began with the right hand outstretched, palm facing downward. However, during World War II the outstretched arm became identified with Nazism and Fascism, and the custom was changed: today the Pledge is said from beginning to end with the right hand over the heart.

    [edit] Addition of the words "under God"

    The Knights of Columbus in New York City felt that the pledge was incomplete without any reference to a deity. Appealing to the authority of Abraham Lincoln, the Knights felt that the words "under God" which were from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address were most appropriate to add to the Pledge. In New York City on April 22, 1951, the Board of Directors of the Knights of Columbus adopted a resolution to amend their recitation of Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of each of the meetings of the 800 Fourth Degree Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus by addition of the words "under God" after the words "one nation." In the following two years, the idea spread throughout Knights of Columbus organizations nationwide. On August 21, 1952, the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus at its annual meeting adopted a resolution urging that the change be made universal and copies of this resolution were sent to the President, the Vice President (as Presiding Officer of the Senate) and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The National Fraternal Congress meeting in Boston on September 24, 1952, adopted a similar resolution upon the recommendation of its President, Supreme Knight Luke E. Hart. Several State Fraternal Congresses acted likewise almost immediately thereafter. This campaign led to several official attempts to prompt Congress to adopt the Knights of Columbus’ policy for the entire nation. These attempts failed.

    Though the Knights of Columbus tried, they were unsuccessful in their attempts to persuade the United States government to amend the pledge. Bills were introduced as early as 1953, when Representative Louis C. Rabaut of Michigan sponsored a resolution at the suggestion of a correspondent. It was a Presbyterian minister who made the difference in 1954 by preaching a sermon about Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. The minister was George MacPherson Docherty, a native of Scotland who was called to succeed Peter Marshall as pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church near the White House, where, in 1863, the same year as the address, Lincoln attended and even rented a pew. After Lincoln’s death, the pew that he rented became something of a national monument. It became customary for later United States presidents to attend services at the church and sit in the Lincoln pew on the Sunday closest to Lincoln’s birthday (February 12) each year.

    George MacPherson Docherty by Fred LangAs Lincoln Sunday (February 7, 1954) approached, Rev. Docherty knew not only that President Dwight Eisenhower was to be in attendance, but that it was more than just an annual ritual for him; while President, Eisenhower had been baptized a Presbyterian. Docherty's sermon focused on the Gettysburg Address, drawing its title from the address, "A New Birth of Freedom."

    Docherty’s message began with a comparison of the United States to ancient Sparta. Docherty noted that a traveler to ancient Sparta was amazed by the fact that the Spartans’ national might was not to be found in their walls, their shields, or their weapons, but in their spirit. Likewise, said Docherty, the might of the United States should not be thought of as emanating from their newly developed Atomic weapons, but in their spirit, the "American way of life". In the remainder of the sermon Docherty sought to define as succinctly as possible the essence of the American spirit and way of life. To do so, Docherty appealed to those two words in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. According to Docherty, what has made the United States both unique and strong was her sense of being the nation that Lincoln described: a nation "under God." Docherty took the opportunity to tell a story of a conversation with his children about the Pledge of Allegiance. Docherty was troubled by the fact that it did not include any reference to the deity. Without such reference, Docherty insisted that the Pledge could apply to just about any nation. He felt that the pledge should reflect the American spirit and way of life as defined by Lincoln.

    After the service concluded, Docherty had opportunity to converse with Eisenhower about the substance of the sermon. The President expressed his enthusiastic concurrence with Docherty’s view, and the very next day, Eisenhower had the wheels turning in Congress to incorporate Docherty’s suggestion into law. On February 8, 1954, Rep. Charles Oakman (R-Mich.), introduced a bill to that effect. On Lincoln’s birthday, four days later, Oakman made the following speech on the floor of the House:

    Rev. Dr. George Docherty (left) and President Eisenhower (second from left) on the morning of February 7, 1954 at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church; the morning Eisenhower was convinced that the pledge needed to be amendedLast Sunday, the President of the United States and his family occupied the pew where Abraham Lincoln worshipped. The pastor, the Reverend George M. Docherty, suggested the change in our Pledge of Allegiance that I have offered [as a bill]. Dr. Docherty delivered a wise sermon. He said that as a native of Scotland come to these shores he could appreciate the pledge as something more than a hollow verse taught to children for memory. I would like to quote from his words. He said, 'there was something missing in the pledge, and that which was missing was the characteristic and definitive factor in the American way of life.' Mr. Speaker, I think Mr. Docherty hit the nail square on the head.

    Senator Homer Ferguson, in his report to the Congress on March 10, 1954, said, "The introduction of this joint resolution was suggested to me by a sermon given recently by the Rev. George M. Docherty, of Washington, D.C., who is pastor of the church at which Lincoln worshipped." This time Congress concurred with the Oakman-Ferguson resolution, and Eisenhower opted to sign the bill into law on Flag Day (June 14, 1954). The fact that Eisenhower clearly had Docherty’s rationale in mind as he initiated and consummated this measure is apparent in a letter he wrote in August, 1954. Paraphrasing Docherty’s sermon, Eisenhower said

    These words [“under God”] will remind Americans that despite our great physical strength we must remain humble. They will help us to keep constantly in our minds and hearts the spiritual and moral principles which alone give dignity to man, and upon which our way of life is founded.

    Docherty’s sermon was published by Harper & Bros. in New York in 1958 and President Eisenhower took the opportunity to write to Dr. Docherty with gratitude for the opportunity to once again read the fateful sermon.

    Harold Dudley (1896-1970) was a poet, author, and founder of the Washington Pilgrimage, later known as Religious Heritage of America. The organization actively promoted the Judeo-Christian heritage of the United States. Dudley was instrumental in lobbying Congress to add "under God" to the official text of the Pledge of Allegiance.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Francis Bellamy (1855 - 1931), a Baptist minister, wrote the original Pledge in August 1892. He was a Christian Socialist. In his Pledge, he is expressing the ideas of his first cousin, Edward Bellamy, author of the American socialist utopian novels, Looking Backward (1888) and Equality (1897).

    Francis Bellamy in his sermons and lectures and Edward Bellamy in his novels and articles described in detail how the middle class could create a planned economy with political, social and economic equality for all. The government would run a peace time economy similar to our present military industrial complex.

    The Pledge was published in the September 8th issue of The Youth's Companion, the leading family magazine and the Reader's Digest of its day. Its owner and editor, Daniel Ford, had hired Francis in 1891 as his assistant when Francis was pressured into leaving his baptist church in Boston because of his socialist sermons. As a member of his congregation, Ford had enjoyed Francis's sermons. Ford later founded the liberal and often controversial Ford Hall Forum, located in downtown Boston.

    In 1892 Francis Bellamy was also a chairman of a committee of state superintendents of education in the National Education Association. As its chairman, he prepared the program for the public schools' quadricentennial celebration for Columbus Day in 1892. He structured this public school program around a flag raising ceremony and a flag salute - his 'Pledge of Allegiance.'

    His original Pledge read as follows: 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag and (to*) the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' He considered placing the word, 'equality,' in his Pledge, but knew that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans. [ * 'to' added in October, 1892. ]

    Dr. Mortimer Adler, American philosopher and last living founder of the Great Books program at Saint John's College, has analyzed these ideas in his book, The Six Great Ideas. He argues that the three great ideas of the American political tradition are 'equality, liberty and justice for all.' 'Justice' mediates between the often conflicting goals of 'liberty' and 'equality.'

    In 1923 and 1924 the National Flag Conference, under the 'leadership of the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, changed the Pledge's words, 'my Flag,' to 'the Flag of the United States of America.' Bellamy disliked this change, but his protest was ignored.

    In 1954, Congress after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, added the words, 'under God,' to the Pledge. The Pledge was now both a patriotic oath and a public prayer.

    Bellamy's granddaughter said he also would have resented this second change. He had been pressured into leaving his church in 1891 because of his socialist sermons. In his retirement in Florida, he stopped attending church because he disliked the racial bigotry he found there.

    What follows is Bellamy's own account of some of the thoughts that went through his mind in August, 1892, as he picked the words of his Pledge:

    It began as an intensive communing with salient points of our national history, from the Declaration of Independence onwards; with the makings of the Constitution...with the meaning of the Civil War; with the aspiration of the people...

    The true reason for allegiance to the Flag is the 'republic for which it stands.' ...And what does that vast thing, the Republic mean? It is the concise political word for the Nation - the 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. And its future?

    Just here arose the temptation of the historic slogan of the French Revolution which meant so much to Jefferson and his friends, 'Liberty, equality, fraternity.' No, that would be too fanciful, too many thousands of years off in realization. But we as a nation do stand square on the doctrine of liberty and justice for all...

    If the Pledge's historical pattern repeats, its words will be modified during this decade. Below are two possible changes.

    Some prolife advocates recite the following slightly revised Pledge: '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, born and unborn.'

    A few liberals recite a slightly revised version of Bellamy's original Pledge: 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with equality, liberty and justice for all.'

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