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Pledge of Allegiance: The Author and His Thought Process

Image: Pledge of Allegiance: The Author and His Thought Process
The Bellamy salute is the salute described by Francis Bellamy (1855–1931) to accompany the American Pledge of Allegiance, which he had authored. (September 12,1915 photo/New-York tribune/wikimedia/commons)

By    |   Thursday, 13 Nov 2014 08:49 PM

Today, citizens of all age groups recite its words in venues throughout the United States. The Pledge of Allegiance is a piece of writing that has withstood the test of time and paints a portrait of the country’s founding principles.

The origins of the Pledge of Allegiance are rooted in 1892 — fittingly, during the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival into the New World. Francis Bellamy, a native of Upstate New York, authored the piece of writing.

ALERT: Should 'One Nation Under God' Stay in the Pledge of Allegiance? Vote Now

Bellamy, who worked for a magazine and showed high promise as a writer, sought to compose a piece that could be recited by schoolchildren across the United States in conjunction with the Columbian Exposition, a widespread event that paid homage to Columbus’ influence in the America’s origins.

As Smithsonian Magazine noted in a 2003 article, the Pledge of Allegiance was designed to serve as a salute to the American flag. Bellamy specifically wrote it so schoolchildren could recite the words and recount the meaning behind each of the stars and stripes.

According to the magazine, Bellamy described the process of writing the Pledge of Allegiance as “arduous mental labor” because he took painstaking strides to compose a piece that was succinct and rhythmic. Bellamy reportedly first heard it read aloud on Oct. 21, 1892, by 4,000 Bostonian high school boys.

In published accounts from the time, Bellamy had stated the word “allegiance” was an important part of the writing because of the still fresh impacts of the Civil War, which had ended 27 years prior.

The original iteration of the Pledge of Allegiance is slightly different from the version recited today. It read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” According to USHistory.org, Bellamy’s original version included a military salute before the recitation began, and one arm was extended toward the flag.

VOTE NOW: Should the Pledge of Allegiance Be Changed?

While its overall theme remains as true today as it was from its original inception, the words and gestures associated with the Pledge of Allegiance have been altered over the years. In 1923, a few grammatical changes were made, including the addition of the “United States.” In 1954, the words “under God” were added to the recitation.

Bellamy’s original salute toward the flag officially ended at the height of World War II by way of a Congressional order because it was viewed as too closely resembling the salute used by the Nazi regime. Today, the gesture used during a recital of the Pledge of Allegiance entails a person placing the right hand hand over his or her heart.

Around the time of the abolishment of the flag salute, the Pledge of Allegiance received a prestigious honor. In conjunction with the recital’s 50th anniversary in 1942, Congress added it to the country’s national flag code.

URGENT: Do You Think 'One Nation Under God' Should Be Removed From the Pledge of Allegiance? Vote Here Now!

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Today, citizens of all age groups recite its words in venues throughout the United States. The Pledge of Allegiance is a piece of writing that has withstood the test of time and paints a portrait of the country's founding principles.
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