The Pledge of Allegiance History

The Pledge of Allegiance History is interesting and varied. Since it was written in 1892, it’s been a beloved part of our Nation. Find out more in this article.

The Pledge of Allegiance is recited by school children throughout the United States. It is a promise to be loyal to the USA and to the American Flag.

Since it was written by Francis Bellamy in 1892, the pledge has been recited in public schools across the USA.

The pledge has been a familiar start of the day for school children for generations.

Pledge of Allegiance History

A Baptist minister from New York, Francis Bellamy wrote the pledge as a flag raising ceremony in honor of the four hundredth anniversary of Christopher Columbus reaching the New World.

Bellamy was the chairman of a committee of school superintendents for the National Education Association and was a strong proponent of patriotism.

Before writing the pledge, Bellamy lobbied for an American Flag to be raised over every public school in the US.

The Pledge was quickly adopted by public schools across the country and became a standard part of the American education system.

The pledge received two distinct changes over the years from the original version written by Francis Bellamy.

The first change came in 1924 when “flag of the United States of America” was added in place of “my Flag”.

The second change to the pledge came in 1954 when President Dwight Eisenhower called on Congress to add “under God” to the pledge.

At the time, the US was in the middle of the Cold War, and the addition was widely popular.

Following this change, the pledge became what we know today.

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Pledge Etiquette

Following proper etiquette when reciting the pledge is a vital step in respecting the flag and the rights it symbolizes.

When reciting the pledge, one must say the pledge aloud with the rest of those gathered.

Your right hand must be placed over your heart as you look at the flag.

There are additional rules that must be followed when reciting the pledge, and they are similar to those followed during the playing of the National Anthem.

  • All individuals should stand at attention during the pledge.
  • Men must remove their hats. Women may keep their hats on.
  • Your right hand should remain across your heart until the pledge is completed.
  • Remove sunglasses, reading glasses may be worn.
  • No eating or drinking during the pledge.
  • You should not chew gum during the pledge.
  • Nothing should be in your hands.
  • The pledge is a solemn vow, and should be treated as such. Refrain from any outward showing of emotion while reciting the pledge.
  • Military members may use a military salute when reciting the pledge.
  • Individuals in uniform should stand at attention, silently, facing the flag when it is recited.

The key to etiquette when reciting the pledge is to consciously respect the flag. It is our symbol of freedom and demands the same respect given to our National Anthem. Following these steps will ensure you are respecting the flag when reciting the pledge.

Pledge Facts

The Pledge of Allegiance history is long and storied, including a few controversies along the way.

Here are some of the most interesting trivia about the history of the pledge.

  • The original version was written by Baptist minister Francis Bellamy in honor of Columbus discovering the New World four hundred years before.
  • Prior to writing the pledge, Francis Bellamy promoted placing an American Flag at every public school in the USA.
  • The pledge was first published in an 1892 issue of “The Youth’s Companion”. This was a popular magazine published for American youth that was published for over 100 years.
  • Bellamy reported that the pledge was intended to protect American’s from radicalization and subversion.
  • In 1924, the first change to the pledge is made. “my Flag” is replaced by “the Flag of the United States of America”.
  • When “under God” was added to the pledge we were in the middle of the Cold War, and many lawmakers believed that adding “under God” was an important message that would highlight our struggle against secular communism.
  • In 1942, the pledge is officially recognized by United States government.
  • Prior to 1943 all children attending school in the USA were asked to say the pledge. But in West Virginia vs Barnette the Supreme Court ruled that children could not be forced to say the pledge if they wished to not say it.
  • An interesting tidbit of Pledge of Allegiance history is that, in 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower encourages congress to add “under God” to the pledge.
  • In 1998, an attempt to remove “under God” was attempted by Michael Newdow in Broward County Florida. Newdow claimed it was a violation of his daughter’s First Amendment rights but the case was dismissed.
  • In 2000, Michael Newdow again filed a suit, this time in California, claiming that just hearing the pledge was infringing on his daughter’s constitutional rights. His suit was dismissed by the Supreme Court.
  • In 2014 it was ruled that the pledge does not discriminate toward atheists by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. The court defined that the line “under God” is a patriotic statement, and not a religious pledge.
  • 32 states have laws stating that the pledge cannot be required in schools. 15 states allow each school to make their own rules, and 3 states have no laws regarding the pledge.
  • Originally, instead of placing the right hand over the heart, the pledge was started with a military solute followed by extending the hand toward the flag after the line “to my flag” was recited. The arm was held upward toward the flag with the palm facing down for the rest of the pledge.
  • The salute changed to the right hand over the heart during WWII.
  • Irving Caesar wrote musical accompaniment for the pledge and it was performed for Congress in 1954. Since then, six other musical numbers intended for the pledge have been written.

The Pledge of Allegiance holds an important place in the hearts and minds of Americans and the daily recitation has continued in most public schools. Each American should take the time to teach their children the importance of the pledge as well as the etiquette and history so this important tradition can carry on.