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Francis Bellamy

Francis Bellamy (1855 - 1931), a devout socialist and Baptist minister created the Pledge of Allegiance for the Boston based Youth's Companion in 1892. Youth's Companion was a nationally circulated family-oriented publication, and by 1892 was the largest publication of any type in the United States, with a circulation around 500 thousand. His brother Edward Bellamy is better known as the author of the socialist utopian novels, Looking Backward (1888) and Equality (1897).

Daniel Ford and James Upham, Bellamy's nephew, owned Youth's Companion, and approached Bellamy for a pledge to support a marketing campaign they had for American flags. In 1888, Youth's Companion had begun a campaign to sell American flags to public schools. By 1892, the magazine had sold American flags to approximately 26 thousand schools. However, by this time the market was slowing for flags, but not yet saturated.

The previous year, Upham had the idea of using the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's discovery of America to spark additional flag sales to the schools. With a patriotic pledge to accompany the sale of a new flag, they hoped to revive and expand their sideline flag marketing business.

The Pledge was published in the September 8th issue of the magazine, and immediately put to use in the campaign. Bellamy used his position as the chairman of the state superintendents of education committee of the National Education Association to promote its use. As its chairman, he was responsible for the program to celebrate Columbus Day that year. He structured the program around a flag raising ceremony and his pledge.

His original Pledge read as follows: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and (to*) the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." ( * 'to' added in October, 1892. ) For a history of the pledge, see The Pledge of Allegiance.

Bellamy commented on his thoughts as he created the pledge, and his reasons for choosing the careful wording:

"It began as an intensive communing with salient points of our national history, from the Declaration of Independence onwards; with the makings of the Constitution...with the meaning of the Civil War; with the aspiration of the people...

The true reason for allegiance to the Flag is the 'republic for which it stands.' ...And what does that vast thing, the Republic mean? It is the concise political word for the Nation - the One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove. To make that One Nation idea clear, we must specify that it is indivisible, as Webster and Lincoln used to repeat in their great speeches. And its future?

Just here arose the temptation of the historic slogan of the French Revolution which meant so much to Jefferson and his friends, 'Liberty, equality, fraternity.' No, that would be too fanciful, too many thousands of years off in realization. But we as a nation do stand square on the doctrine of liberty and justice for all..."



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