1892 October 8

Don’t Tell Anyone, But . . . The Pledge of Allegiance Written by a Christian Socialist


Francis Bellamy, a Christian Socialist, is recognized as the author of the Pledge of Allegiance, which he first published on this day in the popular magazine The Youth’s Companion. The occasion was preparation for Columbus Day celebrations. Most Americans today would probably be surprised to learn that the Pledge was written by a Socialist, a Christian Socialist to be specific. The Christian Socialist movement attracted a small but active following in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; as the name indicates, it fused the principles of both socialism and Christianity.

Congress did not adopt the pledge as the official U. S. Pledge of Allegiance until December 28, 1942. The words “under God” were not added until June 14, 1954. See the landmark Supreme Court decision on the right of Jehovah’s Witness school children to refuse to recite the pledge, in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, on June 14, 1943 (Flag Day, incidentally).

Read: Richard Ellis, To the Flag: The Unlikely History of the Pledge of Allegiance (2007)

Learn more about the history of the Pledge of Allegiance: Joel Westheimer, Pledging Allegiance: The Politics of Patriotism in America’s Schools (2007)

Learn more about Francis Bellamy: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-man-who-wrote-the-pledge-of-allegiance-93907224/?no-ist

Learn more about Christian Socialism: James A. Dombrowski, The Early Days of Christian Socialism (1966) [NOTE: Author Dombrowski was the plaintiff in an important Supreme Court decision, Dombrowski v. Pfister, on April 26, 1965]

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