Subject: The Strange Origin of the Pledge of Allegiance Summary: Speaking of the flag... D

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From: (Harel Barzilai) Newsgroups: alt.activism,misc.headlines,talk.politics.misc Subject: The Strange Origin of the Pledge of Allegiance Summary: Speaking of the flag... Message-ID: <> 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 *Youth's* *Companion*. 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 thousands schools(1). 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 version was, "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 legislation(11). 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 equal..." 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. <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> Notes: ----- 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!] harelb@zaphod.UChicago.EDU <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> ========================================================================= From: clc5q@madras.cs.Virginia.EDU (Clark L. Coleman) Newsgroups: alt.atheism,talk.religion.misc, Subject: Re: "One Nation Under God" -- A Court Case Date: 1 Mar 91 22:33:27 GMT In article <> (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 >From: Newsgroups:,, Subject: Judge upholds constitutionality of Pledge of Allegiance Keywords: organized religion, religion, government agencies, government, state government Message-ID: 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. ||| (Clark L. Coleman)


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