Origin Of The Pledge

The Pledge of Allegiance first appeared in print in the September 8, 1892 issue of The Youth's Companion: "I Pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic to which it stands - one Nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." The pledge was inaugurated on October 21, 1892 at the dedication of the World's Fairgrounds in Chicago and was adopted nationally as a part of flag-raising ceremonies at patriotic meetings, and recited by school children across the country.

The wording was changed several times. For example, the first National Flag Conference in Washington on June 14-15, 1923, changed the words "my flag" to The Flag of the United States of America. Also, On June 14, 1954, President Eisenhower signed into law a bill passed by Congress that added the words "under God" so as to read "one Nation under God." This resulted in some controversy and debate over the principle of separation of church and state. Although reviewed by the New York State Supreme Court, the justice refused to remove from the bill the words "under God."

At the time the Pledge of Allegiance was written, Francis Bellamy and James B. Upham were on the staff of The Youth's Companion. Both families claimed authorship of the Pledge. After years of controversy, the U.S. Flag Association appointed a committee in 1939 to resolve the authorship question. The unanimous decision favored Francis Bellamy. The argument continued until the Library of Congress concluded that "the Bellamy claim to authorship rests upon the more solid ground."

Twenty four states have passed laws either allowing or requiring school districts to offer voluntary recitation of the Pledge. They are: Alabama, Arizona, California, Deleware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

President Harry S. Truman signed a resolution on December 28, 1945 that gave official status to the Pledge. The pen with which he signed the resolution is on display in Bicentennial Room at Flag Plaza, home of National Flag Foundation, Pittsburgh, PA

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