The Secret History of the Pledge of Allegiance

Most Americans are taught the Pledge of Allegiance as young students, eager to pay tribute to their flag and their country. However, few Americans really know how the Pledge got its start. The Pledge of Allegiance has had a very interesting history.

The pledge was born in 1892 when Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, created a short, concise statement for "The Youth's Companion", a popular youth publication of the time, in honor of Christopher Columbus's discovery of America. Bellamy originally intended for the pledge to last for only 15 seconds. A month after the pledge was published, President Benjamin Harrison decreed that it be recited in schools in observance of Columbus Day of 1892, exactly 400 years after Columbus's discovery.

What many Americans may not know is that the pledge has undergone many, many revisions to get to the point it is today. Initially, Bellamy wanted to add the word "equality" to the pledge, but changed his mind due to the controversial political climate at the time. Bellamy's original pledge read, "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Though it seems very similar to the Pledge of Allegiance that we recite today, there were still changes to be made. The National Flag Conference in 1923 made the first real changes to the pledge, modifying the words "my Flag" to read "the Flag of the United States " so that immigrants would know which flag the pledge was referencing. In the early 1900's, many immigrants were flocking to America, the "Land of Opportunity," and this change was meant to make it more apparent that the U.S. was their new home. The Conference then added the words "of America" to the phrase a year later. Allegedly, Bellamy did not approve of these changes, but the Conference did not heed his resistance.

While Congress recognized the pledge as the official national pledge on June 22, 1942, the next year, the Supreme Court ruled that public school students could not be forced to recite the pledge. It wasn't until 1954 that Congress added the words "under God" to the pledge after serious campaigning from the Knights of Columbus. Though the Pledge of Allegiance has seen much revision and controversy over the years, it remains an important part of our patriotic history. Just like "The Star-Spangled Banner " and other American standards, the Pledge of Allegiance is here to stay!