On September 8th, 1892 a children’s magazine called The Youth’s Companion decided to celebrate Colombus Day by publishing a pledge that, up till that point, no one had heard of before. The pledge was very short, lasting only a single sentence, and was designed to be recited in under 15 seconds by its author, a Baptist minister named Francis Bellamy.
The published pledge read:
I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
While not exactly the same, this pledge closely resembles the one we recite today. Of course, this powerful sentence might not have ever been published if not for the efforts of one of the Youth’s Companion staff members, a man named James B. Upham. Upham was a strong believer in the importance of instilling pride and nationalism within the youth of America. According to author Margarette Miller who wrote a history of our pledge called I Pledge Allegiance, Upham “would often say to his wife: ‘Mary, if I can instill into the minds of our American youth a love for their country and the principles on which it was founded, and create in them an ambition to carry on with the ideals which the early founders wrote into The Constitution, I shall not have lived in vain.'”
Together, Bellamy and Upham, bound by their firm belief in the importance of being proud of one’s country, created and shared the first version of the beloved Pledge of Allegiance with the people of America. However, it wasn’t until 1942 that the Pledge was officially recognized by the United States Congress.
Since the first appearance and adoption of the Pledge of Allegiance, it has undergone some revisions for various reasons:
- In 1923 the National Flag Conference asked for the phrase “the flag of the United States” to be added to the pledge, to ensure that new citizens reciting the pledge could not use it to proclaim their loyalty to any other country.
- In 1942, Congress adopted the pledge officially,
In this revised form:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
- On Flag Day in 1954, after growing popularity and acceptance of using the term “under God” in the pledge, President Eisenhower signed into law that the Pledge include that phrase.
With that, the Pledge now became the one we still use today:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.