From: email@example.com (Harel Barzilai)
Subject: The Strange Origin of the Pledge of Allegiance
Summary: Speaking of the flag...
Date: 14 Jun 90 22:16:57 GMT
In light of the happenings and discussions surrounding the
Constitution Desecration (or "Flag ``Protection''" as some call it)
issue, I think you will find the following article on this related
topic interesting, as well as historically enlightening...
[By John W. Baer, from Propaganda Review, Summer 89 issue]
The Strange Origin of the Pledge of Allegiance
Every class day over 60 million public and parochial school teachers
and students in the US recite the Pledge of Allegiance along with
thousands of Americans at official meetings of the Boy Scouts, Girl
Scouts, Elks, Masons, American Legion, and others. During the
televised bicentennial celebration of the US Constitution for the
school children on September 17, 1987, the children as a group did
not recite any part of the Constitution. However, President Reagan did
lead the nation's school children in reciting the Pledge. Yet probably
not one of them knows the history or original meaning of the Pledge.
In the presidential campaign of 1988, George Bush successfully used
the Pledge in his campaign against Mike Dukakis. Ironically, Bush did
not seem to know the words of the Pledge until his campaign manager
told him to memorize it. The teachers and students in the New England
private schools he attended, Greenwich Country Day School and Phillips
Andover Academy, did not recite the pledge. By contrast, Dukakis and
his mother, a public school teacher, recited the Pledge in the public
schools. Yet Bush criticized Dukakis for vetoing a bill in
Massachusetts requiring public school teachers but not private school
teachers to recite the Pledge. Dukakis vetoed the bill on grounds
that it violated the constitutional right of free speech.
[Actually, the case Dukakis *cited* when vetoing (and was subsequently
attacked by Bush for it) was a religious freedom (!) case; see my
upcoming post "The Pledge, part II" a speech by ACLU director Ira
Glasser which, which contains a lot more information you've probably
not heard. It also happens to be among the best speeches I've ever
heard, and demonstrates devastatingly what many of us already knew;
what a bad job Dukakis did responding to Bush's attacks about being
"liberal" and (God forbid) and being a member of the ACLU.]
How did this Pledge of Allegiance to a flag replace the US
Constitution and Bill of Rights in the affections of many Americans?
Among the nations in the world, only the USA and the Philippines,
imitating the USA, have a pledge to their flag. Who institutionalized
the Pledge as the cornerstone of American patriotic programs and
indoctrination in the public and parochial schools?
In 1892, a socialist named Francis Bellamy created the Pledge of
Allegiance for *Youth's* *Companion*, a national family magazine for
youth published in Boston. The magazine had the largest national
circulation of its day with a circulation around 500 thousand. Two
liberal businessmen, Daniel Ford and James Upham, his nephew, owned
On hundred years ago the American flag was rarely seen in the
classroom or in front of the school Upham changed that. In 1888, the
magazine began a campaign to sell American flags to the public
schools. By 1892, his magazine had sold American flags to about 26
In 1891, Upham had the idea of using the celebration of the 400th
anniversary of Christopher Columbus' discovery of America to promote
the use of the flag in the public schools. The same year, the magazine
hired Daniel Ford's radical young friend, Baptist minister,
Nationalist, and Christian Socialist leader, Francis Bellamy, to help
Upham in his public relations work. Bellamy war the first cousin of
the famous American socialist, Edward Bellamy. Edward Bellamy's
futuristic novel, *Looking* *Backward*, published in 1888, described a
utopian Boston in the year 2000. The book spawned an elitist socialist
movement in Boston known as "Nationalism," whose members wanted the
federal government to nationalize most of the American economy. Francis
Bellamy was a member of this movement and a vice president of its
auxiliary group, the Society of Christian Socialists(2). He was a
baptist minister and he lectured and preached on the virtues of
socialism and the evils of capitalism. He gave a speech on "Jesus the
Socialist" and a series of sermons on "The Socialism of the Primitive
Church." In 1891, he was forced to resign from his Boston church, the
Bethany Baptist church, because of his socialist activities. He then
joined the staff of the *Youth's* *Companion*(3).
By February 1892, Francis Bellamy and Upham had lined up the National
Education Association to support the *Youth's* *Companion* as a
sponsor of the national public schools' observance of Columbus Day
along with the use of the American flag. By June 29, Bellamy and Upham
had arranged for Congress and President Benjamin Harrison to announce
a national proclamation making the public school flag ceremony the
center of the national Columbus Day celebrations for 1892(4).
Bellamy, under the supervision of Upham, wrote the program for this
celebration, including its flag salute, the Pledge of Allegiance. His
"I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which
it stands -- one nation indivisible -- with liberty and
justice for all."
This program and its pledge appeared in the September 8 issue of
*Youth's* *Companion*(5). He considered putting the words "fraternity"
and "equality" in the Pledge but decided they were too radical and
controversial for public schools(6).
The original Pledge was recited while giving a stiff, uplifted right
hand salute, criticized and discontinued during WWII. The words "my
flag" were changed to "the flag of the United States of America"
because it was feared that the children of immigrants might confuse
"my flag" for the flag of their homeland. The phrase, "Under God," was
added by Congress and President Eisenhower in 1954 at the urging of
the Knights of Columbus(7).
The American Legion's constitution includes the following goal: "To
foster and perpetuate a one hundred percent Americanism." ne of its
major standing committees was the "Americanism Commission" and its
subsidiary, the "Counter Subversive Activities Committee." To the
fear of immigrants, it added the fear of communism(8).
Over the years the Legion has worked closely with the NEA and with the US
Office of Education. The Legion insisted on "one hundred percent"
Americanism in public school courses in American history, civics,
geography and English. The Pledge was a part of this Americanism
campaign(9) and, in 1950, the Legion adopted the Pledge as an official
part of its own ritual(10).
In 1922, the Ku Klux Klan, which also had adopted the "one hundred
percent Americanism" theme along with the flag ceremonies and the
Pledge, became a political power in the state of Oregon and arranged
for legislation to be passes requiring all Catholic children to
attend public schools. The US Supreme Court later overturned this
Perhaps a team of social scientists and historians could explain why
over the last century the Pledge of Allegiance has become a major
centerpiece in American patriotism programs. A pledge or loyalty oath
for children was not built around the Declaration of Independence --
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal..." Or the Gettysburg address -- "a new nation conceived in
liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created
Apparently, over the last century, Americans have been uncomfortable
with the word "equality" as a patriotic theme. In 1992 the nation will
begin its second century with the Pledge of Allegiance. Perhaps the
time has come to see that this allegiance should be to the US
constitution and not to a piece of cloth.
John W. Baer is a professor of economics at Anne Arundel Community
College in Arnold, Maryland.
1. Louise Harris. *The Flag Over the Schoolhouse,* C.A. Stephens
Collection, Brown University, Providence, R.I., 1971, p. 69.
2. Margarette S. Miller, *Twenty-three Words,* Printcraft Press,
Portsmouth, VA, 1976, pp 63-65.
3. Ibid, pp. 55-65.
4. Ibid, pp. 105-111.
5. Ibid, p. 123.
6. Ibid, p. 122.
7. Christopher J. Kaufmann, *Knights of Columbus*, Harper & Row, NY,
1982, pp. 385-386.
8. Raymond Moley, *The American Legion Story,* Duell, Sloan, and
Pearce, NY, 1966, p. 7.
9. Ibid, p. 371.
10. Miller, p. 344.
11. *New Catholic Encyclopedia,* Washington, D.C., Catholic University
of America, 1967, Vol. 10, p. 738-740.
The above article is being sent to the Activists Mailing List.
# Copyright (C) 1990, Harel Barzilai for Activists Mailing-list #
# You may copy freely so long as you do not charge #
# others for it, and include this copyright notice #
[We're obviously not copyrighting Baer's article reproduced here!]
From: firstname.lastname@example.org.Virginia.EDU (Clark L. Coleman)
Subject: Re: "One Nation Under God" -- A Court Case
Date: 1 Mar 91 22:33:27 GMT
In article <1991Mar1.email@example.com> firstname.lastname@example.org (young.u.huh) writes:
>I heard a piece of news on the radio this morning about an
>atheist father who filed a suit against his son's school (board?),
>claiming that requiring the child to recite the
>Pledge of Allegiance with the phrase "one nation under God" is
>unconstitutional. The decision, as I remember, was that it is
>okay for schools to teach "patriotic values". I don't remember
>the place or other details. Does anyone have any specifics on
>this case? (Did I hear this correctly?)
Here is the UPI story on the decision:
Article 21 of clari.news.religion:
Subject: Judge upholds constitutionality of Pledge of Allegiance
Keywords: organized religion, religion, government agencies, government,
Date: 1 Mar 91 03:34:25 GMT
CHICAGO (UPI) -- A federal judge Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed by
an atheist activist who claimed requiring school children to recite the
Pledge of Allegiance violated his son's right to freedom of religion.
Illinois law requires the pledge to be recited at the beginning of
each school day in all public elementary schools.
The suit, filed in 1988 by Robert Ian Sherman on behalf of his 8-
year-old son, Richard, claimed the phrase ``one nation under God''
violated the First Amendment of the Constitution by indicating approval
of certain religious doctrine.
Sherman said his son was ``embarrassed and faced sanctions when he
refused'' to join in the recitation, and the boy was knocked down by
other students as a result.
U.S. District Judge Ann C. Williams granted a summary judgment in
favor of the state and Community Consolidated District 21 of Wheeling
Township and rejected Sherman's contention the state forced religious
beliefs on his son.
In issuing her ruling, Williams cited other decisions upholding the
constitutionality of the singing of the national anthem in schools and
the words ``In God We Trust,'' which appears on U.S. currency.
Williams said reciting the pledge is only one part of an Illinois law
that requires the teaching of patriotic principles in public schools.
``The secular, patriotic purpose of the law is clear when one
examines the statute as a whole,'' Williams wrote. ``The statute not
only requires the pledge to be recited daily, but also requires that the
students be taught and tested on the principles enunciated in the
Constitution and the constitution of the state of Illinois.''
Williams also said no part of the law calls for punishment for
refusing to say the pledge and said Sherman's son was not told by school
authorities that he had to participate in the daily ritual.
``Mr. Sherman does not explain how he knows the reason his son was
knocked down was because of his refusal to recite the pledge,'' Williams
said. ``Mr. Sherman just expects the court to take his word for it.''
Attorney General Roland Burris hailed Williams' decision.
``We're very pleased that the judge has upheld the rights of our
children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance each morning before they
start their schooling,'' Burris said. ``The concepts of liberty and
justice for all, which are embodied in the pledge, are a valid part of
every child's education.''
Sherman told a news conference after the ruling that he would direct
his attorneys to file an appeal.
``I will go home and tell my son that here, in the United States of
America, he must profess a belief in God,'' Sherman said.
``How can I raise my son to be a good little atheist if the state
requires him to say there's a God and a judge says it's OK?''
NOTE: The above story is copyrighted by United Press International.
"The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should, therefore, be
regarded as a criminal offence." E.W.Dijkstra, 18th June 1975.
||| email@example.com (Clark L. Coleman)