[[A Revised History and Analysis
by Dr. John W. Baer
Illustration by Roxanna Baer
Copyright © 2007 by John W. Baer
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior permission of the author.
Library of Congress Control Number. 2007928020
Baer, John W.
The Pledge of Allegiance: A Revised History and Analysis, 1892-2007
(Revised 2007). Includes Bibliography.
[[A Revised History and Analysis
by Dr. John W. Baer
This book could not have been written without the research of Margarette Miller and Louise Harris as reflected in their books. Special thanks are due my wife, Mary for her editorial and research assistance and to my daughter, Roxanna Baer, for her illustrations.
The Pledge of Allegiance celebrated its 100th birthday in 1992. It first appeared in the September 8, 1892 issue of The Youth’s Companion, a national weekly magazine published in Boston. The Companion was somewhat similar to the present day Reader’s Digest, a weekly magazine for the whole family with a wide variety of stories, articles, and features of interest to different age groups and to their parents. It had the largest weekly national magazine circulation of its day with a circulation around 500,000.
Francis Bellamy (1855–1931), an employee of the magazine and a former Boston Baptist minister, had written the Pledge as a part of “The Official Programme” of the “National School Celebration of Columbus Day.” Bellamy wrote it and other parts of the “programme” while serving as chairman of the National Education Association’s “Executive Committee,” which planned the Columbus Day quadricentennial. Bellamy was The Youth’s Companion representative on this Committee. Other members were heads of the Departments of Education of four different states, and one was a public school superintendent.
The Youth’s Companion paid for the preparation of this program, which was published as part of its September 8, 1892 issue; mailed out free to the public schools and other interested parties. Bellamy and the magazine also handled nearly all of the Committee’s promotion and publicity for the NEA’s “National Public School Celebration of Columbus Day”. The magazine’s owner, Daniel Sharp Ford (1822–1899), had requested that one of The Youth’s Companion’s editors be appointed the Executive Committee’s Chairman in exchange for the magazine’s financial and editorial support.
Ford, owner and publisher of The Youth’s Companion, hired Francis Bellamy in 1891 as a special assistant. Ford had been attending the Bethany Baptist Church on the edge of Boston’s working-class district, where Bellamy was minister. Ford was favorably impressed by Francis’ sermons, which reflected his leadership in the Society of Christian Socialists.
Francis was the first cousin of the famous American socialist and novelist, Edward Bellamy (1850–1898). Edward’s futuristic novel, Looking Backward, published in 1888, described a socialist utopia in Boston in the year 2000. This book sold more than a million copies and started a socialist movement in Boston and the nation known as “Nationalism,” which espoused the gradual nationalization 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.
Francis had enthusiastically participated in the Nationalists’ campaign to nationalize the American economy. He preached and lectured on the virtues of socialism, the evils of capitalism, and the need for economic and social reforms. In 1891, he was forced to resign from his Boston church because of his refusal to give up these activities and change his socialist views. At this time, his older friend, mentor, and parishioner, Ford, offered him a job as his special assistant at The Youth’s Companion.
Ford assigned Bellamy to his nephew and junior partner, James Bailey Upham. Upham was in charge of the magazine’s Premium Department, which served its readers as a sort of mail order house. Among the many goods the Department sold to its readers or gave as premiums for subscriptions was the American flag.
In 1888, Upham launched a successful magazine campaign to place the American flag in front of every public school. (In 1888, the American flag was rarely flown in school yards.) In the 1890’s, he promoted the display of the flag in classrooms. Bellamy’s Pledge of Allegiance could not be recited in front of the school or in the classroom until Upham had persuaded the public school authorities that a public school should own a flag (or flags) and that the teachers and students should salute it.
In 1891, Upham conceived and developed a campaign for using the celebration for the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America as a day to promote both the public schools and their use of the flag. At this time, Roman Catholic immigrants from eastern and southern Europe were flowing into the United States and the Church was aggressively expanding its parochial school system. Upham, like many other Protestant Americans of his day, considered the public school to be a necessary institution for the Americanization of all immigrants, and especially the children of the Catholics.
In 1891, Upham persuaded William Harris, the US Commissioner of Education and the official in the 1892–1893 Chicago World’s Fair Commission, to support his National Public School Celebration of Columbus Day and officially place The Youth’s Companion in charge of the celebration. William Harris, a leader in the National Education Association, lined up the NEA support.
Bellamy, Upham’s assistant, did most of the public relations, advertising, and marketing work for the National Public School Celebration. By June 29, 1891, Bellamy and Upham had arranged for President Benjamin Harrison to announce a national proclamation, making a public school flag ceremony the center of the Columbus Day celebration for 1892. By October, 1892, over half of the nation’s public schools were ready to follow The Youth’s Companion “programme” under the authority of the National Education Association’s Department of Superintendents and most of the states’ Departments of Education.
In 1892, the National Education Association was led by the nation’s Superintendents of Education and their allies in the state educational bureaucracy and teaching colleges. Francis Bellamy, with the advice and cooperation of Upham and his National Education Association committee, designed and wrote most of this program which began as follows:
“When the Superintendents of Education, last February, accepted The Youth’s Companion’s plan for this National Public School Celebration, they instructed their Executive Committee to prepare an Official Programme of exercise for the day, uniform for every school.
“To enable preparations for the National School Celebration in every community to begin immediately, this Executive Committee now publishes through The Companion The Official Programme for the National Columbus Day Public School Celebration.”
The program has eight parts:
1. Reading of the President’s Proclamation
2. Raising of the Flag
3. Salute to the Flag
4. Acknowledgement of God
5. Song of Columbus Day
6. The Address
7. The Ode
8. Addresses by Citizens and National Songs.
Bellamy wrote all of Part 6, The Address, entitled, “The Meaning of the Four Centuries,” which argued that the United States was the model for the world and that America’s greatest innovation in social institutions was the free public school system. He also wrote Part Three, “The Salute to the Flag,” which included the famous “Pledge of Allegiance.” Part three went as follows:
“At a signal from the Principal, the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the Flag the military salute—right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly: ‘I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands: one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.’ At the words, ‘to my Flag,’ the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, towards the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side. Then, still standing, as the instruments strike a chord, all will sing ‘America’—‘My Country, ’tis of Thee.’”
Changes have been made to the salute and to the wording of the Pledge over the century. The original Youth’s Companion’s instructions, “Every pupil gives the Flag the military salute,” was discontinued in most states for a right hand over the heart. In 1942, Congress eliminated the last part of The Companion’s arm movement for the salute, which was, “The right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, towards the Flag and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation.” Because of World War II, this stiff right arm salute was considered too similar to the infamous Nazi salute, “Heil Hitler,” and so was discontinued.
There have been several changes to the wording of the Pledge over the last century. Shortly after its first publication, Bellamy added the word, “to,” for “to the Republic.” Without his permission or consultation and to his great irritation, the National Flag Conferences of 1923 and 1924 added the words, “of the United States of America” to the Pledge, which read as follows:
“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.”
In 1954, after Bellamy’s death, the Congress and President Eisenhower, at the urging of the Knights of Columbus and other groups, made the last change to the Pledge by adding the words, “under God.” Bellamy, once a Baptist minister, never mentioned considering putting in the words, “under God,” in his Pledge. Today the Pledge reads as follows:
“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.”
Francis Bellamy, in a 1923 letter, described his efforts in writing the Pledge as follows:
“It took me two hours to do it. I began with the idea of pledging allegiance to the Flag. That was my own phrase. Then, I sat and reviewed our history from Washington to Lincoln, with the great sentence that Webster also had uttered. That’s how I came to add – ‘and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, indivisible.’ That phrase encompassed our struggle for independence and for indivisibility, which the Civil War was required to fully prove. Then what of our purpose as a Nation?”
“At that time, 1892, we were in the midst of a Universal Brotherhood discussion started by my cousin’s book, Looking Backward. So, I had to decide whether to embody ideas of equality and fraternity (which Jefferson imported here from the French Revolution 100 years before). I decided against these words, and finally wrote the finals, ‘with liberty and justice for all.’ That was all that any Nation could handle. It was applicable to either an individualistic or socialistic state, and could not be gainsaid by any party.”
How could Francis Bellamy write his famous Pledge in only two hours? What did he mean by his cousin’s book, Looking Backward, published in 1888? Why didn’t he use the word, “equality?” What did he mean by the words, “individualistic or a socialistic state?” Why did most of the public schools, but probably none of the parochial schools, use Bellamy’s “programme” or recite his Pledge in 1892?
Other questions arise when you study the history of the Pledge. Why did the National Flag Conference add the words, “of the United States of America,” in 1923 and 1924? Why was the Knights of Columbus urging the addition of, “under God,” in 1954? Why was the Pledge a center of controversy in the courts in the 1930s and in the 1988 Presidential Election? And most important, how did a 23 word pledge or oath, written in 1892 as part of a public school children’s flag salute, become a major part of today’s patriotic ritual, not only for children in both public and parochial schools, but also for adults in the United States Congress, city halls, county government councils, and patriotic and fraternal organizations?
The answers to these questions are complex and include The Youth’s Companion, James Upham, Francis Bellamy, and his cousin Edward Bellamy, the National Education Association, the American Legion, the Masons, the Knights of Columbus, and the people of the United States. This book will try to answer these questions. Perhaps, the first question is: Why was the Pledge written in 1892 and why was it so popular from its beginning?
In 1892, the United States recently had become the largest economy in the world. It was proud of its economic and military might and; with its expanded Navy, was beginning to use its new strength in international affairs.
In 1887, the United States gained naval rights to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. In 1891, it took sides in a civil war in mineral-rich Chile, but ended up backing the eventual losers. In 1893, the white American majority in Hawaii overthrew the native monarch, and President Harrison sent a Treaty of Annexation to the Senate and, under President McKinley, Hawaii was annexed in 1898. By the end of the Spanish–American War, in 1899, the United States had a protectorate in Cuba and a colony in the Philippines.
The United States was beginning to display a trait common to imperialist nations around the world—a disregard for the rights and sensibilities of smaller or weaker nations in Latin America and Asia. Imperialist-minded Americans used a mixture of arguments for foreign expansion—including patriotism, manifest destiny, commerce, and the “white man’s burden.”
By 1892, the traditional American frontier of pioneers and Indians had ended. Geronimo, the American Indian chiefof the Apache tribe, had surrendered in 1886. Late in 1890, a US cavalry regiment intercepted a Sioux Indian tribe trying to escape to Canada from South Dakota. Using their new machine guns, the troops killed about 200 men, women, and children. This massacre, the last Indian “battle,” was known as “Wounded Knee.” Like many other publications, The Youth’s Companion was still publishing “cowboys and Indians” stories.
Production and commerce were expanding greatly in the nation in the 1880s and 1890s. The railroads had joined the country’s manufacturing and wholesale centers into one huge market. Streetcars, elevated railroads, and subways extended city limits and enabled city people to live farther from their work places.
In the 1880’s and 1890s, science and technology were enabling increased production of old and new products. New machines made mass production possible. The telephone and typewriter revolutionized communications. Cash registers and adding machines revamped accounting and created new clerical jobs. Refrigeration enabled railroads to ship meat, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products and store them in warehouses and stores across the country. Pasteurization and chemistry transformed the food processing industry.
Large factories, new machinery, and technology created larger business organizations and innovative management techniques. By placing a great emphasis on cutting production time and costs, less experienced workers could produce more output in less time. Mechanization destroyed many of the labor markets for craft workers and reduced the need for skilled workers. Employers could cut wage costs by hiring unskilled immigrants, women, and children, and subordinating them to rigid schedules and repetitive routines.
Repetitive tasks using high-speed machines dulled workers’ concentration and mistakes could cause very serious injuries. Workers had no health insurance and laissez-faire attitudes stopped national or state legislators from protecting their well-being. egislation to prevent businesses from causing harm to their workers, to the environment, and to their customers had barely begun to be enacted. The progressive era’s federal regulatory laws were a decade away and would be reflected in the administrations of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, when serious legislative efforts to reduce worker distress bore fruit. Under President Woodrow Wilson, the federal government passed laws prohibiting child labor and providing workers’ compensation, at least, for federal employees.
Although the nation was industrializing and urbanizing, the average American still lived in a rural area. In 1880, about 70 percent of the people lived on farms or in towns and villages with less than 2500 inhabitants. By 1920, about half of the American population still lived in rural areas. Life in such places was shaped by the seasons and by the traditional institutions of family and church. People mingled at the general store or drug store and, on special occasions, at fairs and political rallies. The most popular storywriter for The Youth’s Companion was C.A. Stephens, who wrote tales about the rural region near his farm in Maine.
Although the leading occupation was still farming, many farmers, like many craftsmen, were losing their economic independence. In 1880, about one–third of the farmers were sharecroppers or tenants. The proportion grew to two–thirds by 1920. In 1890, about 60 percent of the farmers were tenants in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Delaware. About 30–45 percent were tenants in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois.
In the South, this poor economic condition reflected the plight of the blacks and poor whites. The former slaves had rarely been given land at the end of the Civil War and, as freemen, they remained vulnerable to exploitation, even during the reconstruction period. Armed only with the ballot in the late 1860s and early 1870s, the southern blacks had little chance to effect major changes in the social, political, and economic structure of the South. In 1877, the last of the federal troops were withdrawn from the South, and so, eventually, even the vote was denied them.
In the late 1880’s and 1890’s the state and local governments in the South passed “Jim Crow” laws, which denied blacks civil rights and voting rights. In 1892, almost 300 blacks were lynched—the highest number in the history of the nation. The new immigrants were not safe either. In New Orleans in the same year, 11 Italians were lynched. “Equality” was not a political or social goal in either the North or the South.
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 at the end of the Gilded Age—the period from roughly 1880 to the mid 1890’s. The Gilded Age was one of the political ascendancy of the businessman, the glorification of capitalism, free markets and high finance, very limited role for government, and the ostentatious celebration of wealth. This Age is the high point of the doctrines of economic laissez-faire and social Darwinism—the belief that the most fit would come out best in the business struggle to survive and that those who lived in poverty deserved their fate. Most Americans had little sympathy for the misery of those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
Large corporations were replacing many small businesses. The first trusts were organized in the 1880s—the major one being the Standard Oil Trust formed by John D. Rockefeller in 1882. Between 1889 and 1893,].P. Morgan bought out Thomas Edison and consolidated the electrical companies to form the General Electric Company. Morgan, as the defacto leader of the business community, from 1890 to 1913, hoped to fix prices, keep business finance sound, and limit competition through the creation of mergers and trusts.
During the Gilded Age, all the presidents were Republicans, except for Grover Cleveland, who was in office for two unconnected terms, 1885–1889 and 1893–1897. Republican President Benjamin Harrison was in office between March 1889 and March 1893. In the 1860’s, the Republican Party had represented the middle class, but by the 1890’s, it was representing the interests of the businessman and upper income Americans. Money, greed, and luxury had become the stuff of popular culture and not many people challenged the concentration of great wealth at the top. Wealth was accumulating in the hands of those already rich. The number of millionaires in the country had increased from 1,000 in 1875 to over 4,000 in 1892.
These technological and organizational changes were widening the gap between employers and employees. The Haymarket Square riot in Chicago took place in 1886, when someone threw a bomb among the police trying to break up the demonstration. One policeman was killed and 70 other people were wounded. In retaliation, the police fired into the crowd of strikers, killing seven men. This prompted a wave of anti-labor reaction and government repression. In Illinois, a mass arrest of anarchists and unionists followed. Eventually eight anarchists were convicted and four executed.’ This revived a long-standing American fear of radicalism. The fact that the strikers included anarchists and socialists, many of them foreign-born, created a sense of crisis in many Americans and a feeling that forces of law and order had to act swiftly to prevent social turmoil.
The big strike of 1892 was the Homestead Strike at the Homestead Steel Plant near Pittsburgh. Andrew Carnegie and his manager, Henry Frick, refused a contract with the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers. Frick hired the Pinkerton National Detective Agency to lockout the union members. The workers took up arms against the strikebreakers and the Pinkerton police and on July 5 gunfire broke out and 40 strikers were shot and 9 killed. Most of the shooting took place between Pinkerton police on a river barge and the workers on shore. Several people were killed. The Youth’s Companion, in its Pledge of Allegiance magazine of September 8, reported a story from this strike. A medical student was one of the Pinkerton police and he lost his life attending to the wounded among the police.
Carnegie and Frick kept up the pressure, bringing in trainloads of unemployed strikebreakers. Once the strike leaders were arrested, the union was broken. Frick soon started a program of soliciting workers from overseas.
In the 1892 strike at Coeur d’Alene in Idaho, strikers, angered by wage cuts and a lockout, seized the mines and battled federal troops sent to subdue them. Such actions convinced many business executives and some of the public that force was the best response to the unions and to radical worker demands, which they thought were fomented by socialists, anarchists, and foreigners.
Although much of the new wealth sprang from the growth of the economy and technological innovation, avarice and corruption were also important ingredients. The avarice of Wall Street financiers and their purchase of corrupt politicians was becoming more obvious to the general public.
In 1892, Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, the Republican Senator from Rhode Island, whom Lincoln Steifens had called the “Boss of the United States,” informed his business friends that he was going to retire from the Senate for financial reasons. While in Congress, he had worked closely with JP. Morgan and the American Sugar Refining Company, better known as the Sugar Trust. The Sugar Trust “loaned” Aldrich $7,000,000 for business deals arranged by his business friends in Rhode Island. These investments soon reached $16,000,000 in value.
A symbolic marriage of the politician and the businessman took place when Aldrich’s daughter, Abby, married John D. Rockefeller’s son, John D., Jr., in 1901. Over the years, the philanthropy of John D. Rockefeller and his sons would symbolize their desire to give up the ways of irresponsible business practices and corrupt politics for a more responsible and civic way of life.
The battle for equal rights had its victories and defeats during this period. The Indians had few rights and were not allowed to vote until the 1920’s. The African-Americans in the South were losing their voting privileges, but in the North, the immigrants’ political clout was being felt through the political bosses who organized them. Women were making modest steps toward equality. The National Suffrage organization presented its annual request for the vote before Congress in 1892. Wyoming had given women the vote in 1890.
Reform was beginning. Although the US Supreme Court was shrinking the regulatory authority of the states and had classified a union as a “conspiracy and restraint of trade” and, thus, illegal, signs of new reform were seen in the establishment of the Interstate Commerce Commission, in 1887, to regulate the railroads, and the enactment of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890.
Old Patrician families, lawyers, doctors, and clergy were offended by what they perceived as the erosion of old American values and by the diminution of their wealth and importance relative to the nouveau riche. Such old-money people were: Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and the three Adams—Charles, Henry, and Brooks Adams. Some new money people, like Daniel Ford, also were bothered by the erosion of old American values and the lack of concern of many employers for the welfare of their employees. The business rhetoric of individualism, market forces, and free enterprise were beginning to be challenged by the concepts of fairness and social justice.
Many middle- and upper-class community leaders and responsible businessmen were becoming active in a wide variety of reform movements in the late 1880s and 1890s and would set the tone for the Progressive Era, which began with the Teddy Roosevelt Presidency of 1901 to 1909. In 1889, Henry George, “single tax” advocate, almost became Mayor of the City of New York. Edward Bellamy’s Nationalist Movement supported the new populist People’s Party in the Presidential Campaign of 1892.
Some of the reformers were very successful in placing huge tracts of land under the protection of the federal government and beginning federal protection of natural resources, wildlife, and the environment. In 1886, the first of many Audubon Societies were formed. In 1887, Teddy Roosevelt and others founded the Boone and Crockett Club—an organization that promoted “manly sport with the rifle,” to which end it would work “for the preservation of the large game of this country.” Boone and Crockett took, as a principal duty, the protection of Yellowstone National Park against various attempts to turn it over to private ownership and commercial enterprise.
In 1892, the Sierra Club was formed. The Sierra Club founders included John Muir, several professors fro the University of California; the President of Stanford University; scientists from the US Geological Survey; a judge, and several lawyers. They were well-to-do but not wealthy. The Sierra Club was not only for conservation but also the preservation of wilderness areas in their pristine condition.
By the 1890’s, forest devastation was underway almost everywhere. Timber operators and timber barons followed a “cut and get out” philosophy. Although most Americans assumed there always would be plenty of wood, early environmentalists did arouse the public conscience.
In 1891, President Harrison set aside 13,000,000 acres of timberland for public forests; President Cleveland added another 21,000,000 acres by 1897. Government ownership and control of natural resources was modifying the role of private ownership in a market economy.
During Teddy Roosevelt’s administration, 132,000,000 acres of the public domain were added to the Forest Reserves. A reclamation law was passed that provided for the construction of 28 irrigation projects in the West, including Roosevelt Dam in Arizona. The President had said that these great water storage works were too vast to be undertaken by private effort and individual states and should be done by the federal government.
In 1892, the population of the United States was in flux. Rural Americans were moving into the cities. Immigrants were pouring in from the outside. Racial, ethnic, and class strife were growing and old certainties of religion and custom were being challenged.
In 1892, the native-born Americans were concerned about the growing number of immigrants who did not seem to assimilate as well as in earlier periods. In 1880, about 80 percent all immigrants, coming into the United States, came from northern or western Europe; by 1900, about 80 percent came from southern or eastern Europe.
In the 1890’s, almost a million immigrants a year were coming into the United States and these were mainly Catholics and Jews from eastern and southern Europe. The foreign-born population from eastern and southern Europe, in 1880, was only 279,000 and about 2,000,000 in 1900. The percentage of the nation’s total population born in eastern and southern Europe was only four percent in 1880, but nine percent in 1890, and nineteen percent in 1900, concentrated mostly in the large cities.
These new immigrants anchored their lives in what they knew best—their language and their culture found in neighborhood ethnic groups in the cities. Old World customs persisted and this often irritated the Native Americans. These “foreigners” did not as readily adopt the ways of the Protestants as the earlier immigrant had done. The new immigrants continued to speak, eat, and dress as in the old country. Many Americans feared that these “foreigners” were a threat to the American democratic institutions and culture.
The Catholic issue was very important in Massachusetts and Boston. Irish-Catholic Mayors were elected in Lawrence (1880), Lowell (1882), and Boston (1884). By 1893, the Archdiocese of Boston numbered 550,000 Catholics, served by about 400 priests and 170 parochial schools with 30,000 students.
In 1892, many Americans believed that the Roman Catholic hierarchy and its loyal parishioners were a threat to American culture and democratic institutions because of the Church’s loyalty to foreign power—namely the Vatican and the Pope. In the 1890s, this conflict between the Catholics and Protestants was growing in severity because of the large jump in Catholic immigrants. From 1880 to 1900, the Catholic population jumped from 6,000,000 to 12,000,000. New dioceses were founded almost every year as the expansion of the Church went ahead at a pace more rapid than in previous decades.
Many anti-Catholic organizations existed at this time—the most prominent being the American Protective Association. The American Protective Association was formed in 1887 in Clinton, Iowa to “protect” the Protestants from the Catholics and to launch a vigorous attack against the Roman Catholic Church. Henry Francis Bowers, a Mason, who founded the APA, had obtained the level of the 32nd Degree in Scottish Rite Masonry and had made a name for himself speaking before the Masons in Iowa on his anti-Catholic topics. The APA was a ritualistic secret society, whose members took oaths to struggle against Roman Catholicism in all of its manifestations and swore not to hire or do business with Catholics. It tried to influence existing parties, especially the Republican Party, and exploited fears that Catholic immigrants were radical unionists.
Between 1890 and 1893, the APA grew across 22 states and Canada. The religious bigotry of the APA activities was apparent from the start. It published all sorts of propaganda directed at the Catholic Church, much of it deliberately falsified or distorted to frighten Americans. It went so far as to claim that Pope Leo XIII had ordered the American Catholics to rise on the feast of Saint Lily, July 31, 1892, and massacre all Protestants.
In January 1893, Leo XIII established the Apostolic Delegation in Washington after lengthy negotiations. Francesco Satolli was selected as delegate. To the APA, this event became a cause to celebrate and grounds for demonstrations. Archbishop Bedini’s tour of the United States as papal legate occasioned widespread outbreaks of nativist riots. The conflict was often seen in the struggle between the public and the parochial school systems.
The influx of so many immigrants, between 1880 and 1900, was transforming the United States from, basically, a Protestant nation into a society of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. In large cities like Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, and Milwaukee, immigrants and their offspring were approaching a majority of the population. Many Americans believed this might be disloyal to the political and social institutions of the country, and felt that the children of these people should be “Americanized” in the public school system. They also often believed that the parochial school system was a threat to the successful “Americanization” of the children of immigrants and even of native-born Catholics.
The Pledge of Allegiance was written for the National Public School Celebration of 1892 much more to honor the public schools than to honor Columbus. The public school system had grown in most states after the Civil War and by 1892, the public school was a well established institution in the United States. Education through the eighth grade was compulsory for children in most states. Many Protestants believed that all children should attend only public schools.
Originally, the public schools were controlled by the local community. The state superintendents of education had acquired some measure of control over city schools and lesser control over the one-room schools in rural areas. Massachusetts was the leader in public school education in the 19th Century. Horace Mann, in Massachusetts, had set up the first teachers’ colleges, called normal schools, in the 1840’s and by 1892, many urban school teachers needed formal “normal school” education to teach. In a few decades, the state boards of education and the normal schools would dominate public school education.
Several groups avoided sending their children to the public schools by establishing their own private schools in order to preserve their own intellectual, cultural, and religious values. Some of the wealthier Protestant denominations, such as the Episcopalians, set up their own schools. This was the era when Groton, St. Paul, and many of the country’s private boarding schools, usually church related, were established or expanded. The Roman Catholic Church eventually set up a much larger system of parochial schools to avoid sending their children to the public schools.
Public school education was inclined to be much more secular than religious because no particular denomination was dominant so that a commitment to a particular type of religious education was weak. The institution of the Sunday school also provided religious education for Protestant children.
Walls separating Church and State in the area of education had steadily risen in the late 19th Century and this doomed to failure the attempts at compromise between Catholic and a State-supported system of education. Only a few liberal bishops in the Catholic hierarchy believed that an accommodation with the public schools was possible. Most thought that without parish schools, there was little hope that the Church would be able to maintain itself in America.
The Bill of Rights clearly expresses the principle of separation of Church and State and many Protestant groups were wary of any cooperation between public schools and schools of religious groups. Some Americans, especially Free Masons, believed strongly in secular public education as against Church-dominated public education. Reflecting this common Protestant sentiment, the Republican platform, in the campaign of 1876, came out in favor of a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the use of tax funds to support schools under the control of any religious organization.
American Protestant groups, who were running most school boards, believed that one major function of the public school was to help acclimatize the immigrant groups into American ways. The public school and its “Americanization” policy attempted to inculcate these traditional cultural standards and did not attempt to incorporate and, many times, even denounced cultures of immigrant groups.
The Catholics were often offended by these efforts at Americanization, which were often both anti-Catholic and anti-foreign. The liberal wing of the Catholic Church had tried to establish joint classes with the public schools. However, because of religious objections in both the Protestant and Catholic hierarchies, this attempt at integration was unsuccessful. By 1892, the Catholic Church was aggressively promoting the parochial school system. The Third Plenary Council of Baltimore had met in 1884 and had promulgated a body of legislation that would guide the direction of the Church for about the next 40 years. It included the policy of establishing parochial schools throughout America. A decree on this policy centered on four major points: The need for parochial schools; the pastor’s obligation in this matter; the people’s obligation to support such schools; and the obligation of parents to send their children to Catholic schools. Each parish was to begin building a parochial school within two years if one did not already exist.
Another important reason for the establishment of Catholic schools was the desire of Catholic ethnic groups to hand down the faith according to their own cultural traditions. Language, as well as religion, was a major influence in their commitment to support their own schools. Not only first generation foreign-speaking peoples, such as Italian, French Canadians, and Poles, but also second and third generation Germans and Irish, strengthened the commitment to parochial schools in the late 19th Century.
In 1890, some Catholic priests told their parishioners that no child could be admitted to the sacraments of confirmation and communion unless he or she had attended a parochial school. Catholic educators rejected public schools as operating according to a Protestant ideology. The Protestants had laws passed that overtly discriminated against Catholics, such as prejudice in hiring Catholic schoolteachers.
Catholic opposition to public school expenditures stemmed from a general aversion to higher taxes and from a genuine suspicion of the innovations that seemed to be transforming public education in the 1890’s and later decades. Catholics saw the proliferation of public school programs as a threat to their own schools and, for this reason, many Catholics did not wish to see them prosper. One Catholic bishop, especially outspoken against the public schools, was Bernard McQuaid of Rochester, New York, where Francis Bellamy attended college.
In the early 1890’s, this battle between the Catholic- and Protestant-dominated schools was severe. In 1890, the Chicago Tribune accused the Catholics of opposing appropriations for public schools in order to cripple them. The yearly payment of taxes by Catholics for the support of public schools, to the exclusion of their own, served as a perennial reminder of what seemed to them the prejudice of the Church’s enemies. In the 1890s, the Illinois Republicans tried to get an Amendment to the Constitution that the legislature could not make any grants of money or land to sectarian or denominational schools.
Some Protestants, especially members of the American Protective Association, tried to pass laws that threatened even the existence of Catholic schools. For example, in 1889, the Illinois legislature passed a law that only those schools approved by local boards of education could satisfy compulsory attendance requirements. The November defeat of the long entrenched Republicans—thanks in part to the efforts of the Catholics—brought the law’s repeal.
In New York State, verbal accusations took place around the question of the public schools. This was partly due to the prominence the Catholic hierarchy gave to the parochial school system. The clerics spoke on the virtues of the parochial schools and the moral dangers of secular education. The suspicion that there was a treacherous Catholic plot to subvert the public schools hardened into a Protestant conviction that a Catholic war upon the public school system had begun.
From 1888 until his death in 1905, James Upham would lead The Youth’s Companion in various campaigns to educate the public school children in “American patriotism” and “Americanism.” In 1892, he promoted the Public School Celebration for Columbus Day. Like many other Americans of his day, he feared that the new immigrants, their children, and the growing parochial school system might not support American democratic institutions and that they might even retain the ethnic and religious hatreds and authoritarian institutions of their countries of origin. With hindsight, we can see these fears were unfounded and that immigrants and Roman Catholics were as “good Americans” as any other ethnic groups. But in 1892, it was not so obvious.
Perhaps the most important link between the new patriotic hereditary societies, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Sons of the American Revolution, and the American Protection Association, was Henry Baldwin. He was a member of the SAR and the APA. In 1898, Baldwin organized the American Patriotic League, whose program included the restriction of immigration, an education qualification for all voters, a prohibition of the use of public funds for sectarian education, and limitation of western lands to American-born settlers.
In February 1891, Baldwin led a Conference of Patriotic Orders of the United States in Chicago and invited patriotic organizations and anti-Catholic organizations. At the Conference, the DAR, SAR, and others refused to endorse Baldwin’s anti-Catholic program. However, through this effort, Baldwin did become a close friend of William McDowell, who is important in the early history of the Pledge.
Right Arm Salute to the Flag During the Reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, A Standardized Ritual in Many Public Schools, 1892 to about 1950. (Illustration by Roxanna Baer based on illustrations in The Youth’s Companion.)
The Youth’s Companion’s Pledge
The Pledge of Allegiance never would have been written and promoted if The Youth’s Companion had not existed in 1892. Today, the magazine and its owner and editor, Daniel Ford, are largely forgotten. This is unfortunate because Ford was a very successful and amazing businessman who knew how to interest both children and their parents in reading—a skill needed today.
The Youth’s Companion magazine, from 1892 to its demise in 1929, promoted the Pledge of Allegiance. The magazine claimed that its personnel, under the leadership of James Bailey Upham, Ford’s nephew, had written the Pledge. The magazine resented Francis Bellamy’s claim that he alone, and not Upham or the staff of the magazine, had written the Pledge. (The magazine’s tradition of anonymity, at the time the Pledge was written, meant that no staff names were associated with any of the writing in the magazine.) In a sense, the magazine management was right, for without the leadership of Upham and the backing of Ford’s highly respected and successful magazine, the Pledge would not have been written and successfully promoted as a flag salute and a national creed for the use of the American public.
In 1892, The Youth’s Companion magazine had the largest, or next to the largest, circulation of any American weekly magazine. In 1885, the magazine had a circulation of about 385,000, 400,000 in 1887, 475,000 in 1892, and in 1898, passed the one half-million mark. In 1901, circulation was 545,342. It continued near that figure until 1907 and then began a gradual decline. There were still 305,455 subscribers when the Atlantic Monthly Company in Boston took over in 1925. Its final issue was as a monthly, in 1929, when it became part of the American Boy.
In 1892, the level of writing in The Companion was of such high quality that parents, as well as their children, were reading it. It had articles written at all levels for the children and articles for the parents, who would read the magazine around the living room or dining room table. This was before the time of television and radio and even the daily newspaper was rare in rural areas.
The decorative seal on the title page showed a family group reading The Youth’s Companion. In the center was grandmother holding the paper. Behind her were father and mother. Completing the group were a boy about 15, a boy of 11, and a girl about 8 years old. Its motto was, “Nothing But the Best.”
Ford had discovered that if you publish for children alone, you are doing well if you can keep any reader as long as five years. By publishing for the whole family, although with an emphasis on youth, The Youth’s Companion held on to many subscribers for a full generation. The Companion was somewhat like the Reader’s Digest, in that it had something of interest for every member of the family.
Ford and the other editors of The Youth’s Companion n discovered, like the Reader’s Digest, that a magazine is more interesting when it contains plenty of short bits as well as plenty of full-length articles. It contained clippings from other magazines and from books, all with due credit. Even English, German, and French magazines were scanned for suitable bits. “Miscellaneous” items ran from 50 words to 1,000 words in length.
There were adult articles by presidents of universities, professors, leading scientists, and famous authors. Some of the authors included William James, Willa Cather, O’Henry, Mark Twain, Bret Harte, William Dean Howells, Winston Churchill, Lincoln Steffens, and William Cullen Bryant. The Youth’s Companion had articles by Thomas Huxley, Theodore Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, and even poetry by John Quincy Adams and Francis Scott Key. In 1892, several poems by Emily Dickinson were published in the magazine.
The emphasis in the fiction was on action, adventure, and humor. New writers were welcomed to write for the magazine and were eagerly sought out. The Youth’s Companion first brought Jack London to public notice in 1899. The basic formula of the magazine was a mix; serials, short stories, articles by the famous, developments in the sciences, comments on current events, a page of amusing anecdotes, a children’s page, a miscellany page, and puzzles. Its fiction combined realism and plenty of action, but often also contained the refined and conventional Victorian sentimentality. Sex, crime, or anything considered immoral were rigidly excluded.
Ford was proud of the literary excellence of his paper and wanted it to be a moral and spiritual force in society. He was a great believer in the social gospel principles of Jesus Christ and sought to direct his life by those principles. The 300 or 400 employees of his magazine found in him a generous and considerate employer.
The Youth’s Companion in 1892 also was a leader in the new science of advertising. Great changes in marketing and distribution were taking place in America by 1892, as advertising by national manufacturers began to dominate the magazines and as local retail advertising began to dominate the newspapers.
A leader in circulation and advertising volume in the 1890s, The Youth’s Companion was a leader in developing methods for making advertising more attractive and more effective. At a time when advertising agencies were basically space salesmen, The Youth’s Companion established a copy department that turned out advertisements that set new standards of typography and effectiveness. The magazine’s practice of submitting a suggested completed ad to advertisers resulted in sales of high-cost space in the publication and was an idea that advertising agencies adopted. The use of photographic illustrations first came into magazine advertising through the example of The Youth’s Companion.
The World’s Fair edition of The Youth’s Companion (May 4, 1893), which had a circulation of 650,000—its highest ever—also had the record amount ever paid for one ad at that time. The $14,000 paid by Mellin’s Foods, for the first color ad published in an American periodical, was for a lithograph of the winning Paris Salon painting of 1891, “The Awakening of Cupid.”
The Youth’s Companion editorial material was not subservient to its advertisers. It did not run stories along side of advertisements, but kept all in one section. It had Victorian, but intelligent, taboos that extended to advertising, taking into consideration that it was read by children. A large percentage of the magazines of the time had ads devoted to tobacco products, liquor, perfumes, and specialized articles of women’s underwear. The Companion would not accept such advertising, and eventually this policy helped bring about its demise.
Francis Bellamy was probably correct when he claimed that The Youth’s Companion campaign, in 1892, to promote the National Public School Celebration for Columbus Day was the first national campaign to combine modern public relations and publicity techniques with national advertising.
The original offices of The Youth’s Companion had been in downtown Boston, including locations on School Street, Washington Street, and Temple Place. In 1892, Ford moved the headquarters to 201 Columbus Avenue (now 142 Berkeley Street), near the present Boston Central Public Library on Copley Square. The building, which Ford erected for The Youth’s Companion, today is called the “Pledge of Allegiance Building.” The first issue published here was the July 21, 1892 issue and the Pledge of Allegiance was written and published here.
Daniel Sharp Ford’s monumental, five-story building combined beauty and artistic qualities with good design and layout for a publishing business, with natural light from windows and skylights. The style was the round-arched, squat-columned, masonry-exalting Romanesque.
This five-storied building designed for The Youth’s Companion today is of brown sandstone and matching brick, as solid and impressive as a bank. Great arched windows and heavily recessed and arched doors characterize the street facade. Passing beneath the great arch, one enters a great two-story vestibule. Throughout the interior, the woodwork was of oak with heavily carved oaken benches for waiting visitors.
The Business Office was on the first floor and here visitors were assigned guides for a tour of the magazine’s building. On one side of the entrance were the Subscription and Advertising Departments. Ford’s office was located in the rear of the Advertising Department. On the other side of the vestibule was the Correspondence Department where business mail was handled.
The Premium Department was on the third floor accessible by stairs or elevator. It had bins and shelves stocked with the premiums. Nearby was the packing and mailing room. Apparently, the folding machines and stitching machines were located here also.
In the basement were the presses, collators, binding equipment, and paper supplies. Here also were located two dynamos that generated electricity for lighting for the building and steam tubular boilers for power.
The editorial offices, library, and art department were on the top floor. The library’s principal source of information was an immense collection of clippings. The file was like an encyclopedia. Its contents were culled from more than 200 magazines received from all over the world.
Ford was a modest and self-effacing editor and publisher. His own name never appeared in any part of the paper until after his death in 1899. He personally approved all the material going into the magazine and its wide range reflected Ford’s broad interests. He carefully avoided a didactic tone in the stories and articles that he printed, and succeeded in establishing the paper as a powerful influence for high literary and moral standards for three generations.
He called his magazine company the Perry Mason Company, for no obvious reason except to protect his privacy. The name was changed to Perry Mason and Company, in 1900, after his death in 1899. Erle Stanley Gardner, author of the “Perry Mason” mystery stories, thinks he named his hero after the company’s name, which he remembered from his childhood. Gardner was one of the magazine’s many readers and a native of Malden, Massachusetts, home of James Upham.
Ford was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1822. His father, Thomas Ford, and his mother were both born in England and came to the United States at the beginning of the century. The father died when Daniel was only six, leaving his mother a widow with six children and very limited means of support. Daniel, as a boy, grew up in a family close to the poverty line and, perhaps, it was this childhood experience that made him sympathetic with the poor and the needy.
He had a common-school education in Cambridge and later supplemented it with constant reading and careful practice in writing. Cambridge, Boston, and New England were the intellectual and literary capitals of the nation in the 19th Century. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and other literary “greats” lived in Cambridge during Ford’s lifetime.
In Cambridge, the home of Harvard College, Ford apparently learned the self-discipline, penchant for hard work, and highly-principled characteristics of the Puritans. He had a high moral vision of how communities ought to function. The Puritans were a very civic people, with not only a concern with private peccadilloes and personal morality, but also with a strong sense of institutional virtue. What drove many of them were inner discipline, and a sense of responsibility and integrity. You could place the character of your children in such hands, something you could not do with many magazine editors.
Ford was still a boy when he went to work in the printer’s trade. He was employed first as a compositor and later as a bookkeeper in the office of The Watchman and Reflector; a prosperous, weekly, Baptist journal published in Boston. At age 22, he became a partner with J.W. Olmstead and bought a large share in this journal.
In 1857, Ford, Olmstead, and Company bought The Youth’s Companion, which had been founded 30 years before by Nathaniel Willis. Its first issue had appeared in 1827, a pioneer in youth weeklies. It may not have been what the young would have chosen, but it was what the parents of the religious New Englanders thought best for them—moral stories for Sunday Schools and Sunday reading, when the principle of Sabbath observance was very rigid. Not long after purchasing The Youth’s Companion, the firm dissolved its partnership; Olmstead kept The Watchman and Reflector and Ford took The Youth’s Companion. One reason for the split in the partnership was that Ford had wanted to increase circulation with premiums while Olmstead saw premiums as a form of bribery. The magazine’s circulation grew from seven thousand, in 1857, to more than half a million copies at the time of Ford’s death in 1899.
In his private life, Ford was a generous helper of religious enterprises associated with Baptist charities and Christian social action. For many years, he supported the Ruggles Street Church, a Baptist missionary institution in the Roxbury factory district of Boston, not too far from his residence in downtown Boston. He also supported Francis Bellamy’s churches in the area. He often gave away as much as $50,000 a year to these churches and to other Baptist charities.
At his death, the larger part of his fortune of more than two million dollars was bequeathed to the various missionary and benevolent associations of the Baptist Church in New England. Almost one million dollars went to the Baptist Social Union of Boston. With that money, the Union built Ford Hall, the meeting place of the Ford Hall Forum; one of the earliest institutions for the open public discussion of controversial social, economic, political, and religious issues. Ford Hall was completed in 1908 and could seat 1,400 people, and was located near the State Capitol. The State bought the building in World War I, but the Ford Hall Forum still exists as a public institution.
In 1908, Ford Hall Forum began its Sunday evening programs; the first program had four clergymen speaking—three of them socialists and openly stating their positions on the day’s social and economic problems.
In 1928, the Forum was ejected from the auspices of the Boston Baptist Social Union. A conservative Baptist group successfully charged that the Forum’s meetings were anti-Christian, un-American, socialistic, communistic, and generally radical. Reverend Herbert Johnson, a Baptist minister, helped by the Daughters of the American Revolution, attacked the Forum for its continuous discussion of such radical topics as socialism, woman’s suffrage, civil rights, minimum wage laws, birth control, and pacifism.
In 1928, the Forum became independent of the Baptists with the aid of such liberal Boston businessmen as Edward A. Filene and Roger Babson. The Forum still provides a platform from which the current political, social, intellectual, and cultural issues are discussed and debated. It reaches about a million people through public radio and, occasionally, through public television.
The Ford Hall Forum continues to reflect its founder’s broad social interests. Ford felt comfortable with the topic of socialism and was much interested in the Social Gospel, which to his friend, Francis Bellamy, implied Christian Socialism. Ford’s position was that businessmen should be interested in the welfare of workingmen. He feared unrest among the working classes and saw the possibility of an industrial warfare, justified by the legitimate grievances of labor. In willing his money to the Forum, he said that he hoped to stimulate the interest of businessmen who belonged to the Baptist Social Union “in the welfare of those who are dependent upon the returns from their daily toil for their livelihood.” He added that the Social Union and the nation should foster closer personal relations between Christian businessmen and workingmen because of the latter’s “religious indifference, his feverish unrest, and his belief that businessmen and capital are his enemies. This attitude of mind forebodes serious perils, and Christianity is the only influence that can change or modify them.”
Ford’s wife was Sarah Upham of Melrose, sister of the Reverend James Upham. They married in 1844 and had one son and two daughters. He lived a modest lifestyle in Boston, but he did keep horses and had a yacht, or sailboat, at Marblehead, Massachusetts.
In 1886, Ford’s nephew-by-marriage, James Bailey Upham, was appointed head of The Youth’s Companion Premium Department and was also admitted as a junior partner in the firm of Perry Mason Co. Upham is responsible for the Pledge in at least three ways. Between 1888 and 1892, he successfully introduced the Flag into the school and the classroom. In 1891 and 1892, he arranged for the National Public Schools Celebration for Columbus Day to be built around the public schools and a flag ceremony with the, as yet unwritten, flag salute. In 1892, he described to Francis Bellamy what kind of Pledge he wanted and supervised his writing of it.
In 1893, Upham introduced adults to their present practice of reciting the Pledge at the National Liberty Pole and Flag Raising Ceremony, held at the Highlands of Navesink on the New Jersey coast. In a letter to William McDowell, who was the initiator of this ceremony, Upham wrote, “While it is true that I suggested and marked out the campaigns for the patriotic work which The Youth’s Companion has inaugurated, yet I recognize the fact that personally I could have done nothing without the backing of The Youth’s Companion…”
In short, Upham is responsible for placing the Flag in front of the schoolhouse, placing the Flag in the classroom, conceiving the idea of a “pledge of allegiance” for a flag salute, and promoting its adoption in the public school system and in adult patriotic ceremonies. No wonder, that for years, many of the Pledge’s supporters argued that James B. Upham and The Youth’s Companion, not Francis Bellamy, had written the actual Pledge itself.
Both Daniel Ford and James Upham were leaders in the use of premiums. The Companion was the first magazine to use effectively the device of giving premiums for annual subscriptions. A practice it began under Daniel Ford’s leadership in the late 1860s. This premium system probably reached its highest development under his nephew, James Upham, who used the American flag as one of many premiums in promotion campaigns. Premiums were given to new subscribers, old subscribers for renewals, and to subscribing clubs and institutions like schools and churches.
By the time of Upham, subscribers could buy many items from the Premium Department. For over a half century, The Companion issued, in late October, a “Premium List Number” containing pictures and descriptions of many different types of goods. This premium number was, in many ways, the predecessor of the mail order catalogue of Sears and Roebuck. The premiums included laying hens, microscopes, singing canaries, steam engines, 93-piece dinner sets, pedometers, watch fobs, clothes, tools, sewing machines, church bells, pianos, toys, stoves, bedsteads, furniture, silverware, moccasins, Jack knives, lockets, cameras, pictures, and books by Shakespeare, Dickens, Hardy, Gladstone, and Tennyson.
In 1886, Upham had become head of the Premium Department. By 1888, he had launched his School Flag Movement not only to sell flags but also to raise the level of patriotism in the schools. His promotion often would take the form of an advertisement in the magazine.
One very successful ad urged the student to write The Youth’s Companion for 100 cards bearing the inscription: “This Certificate entitles the holder thereof to one share in the patriotic influence of a Flag over the schoolhouse.” These cards, sold by the pupil at 10 cents each, brought in the $10 dollars to buy a flag sold from the Premium Department. The Board of Education was asked to furnish the flagpole. This plan, supported by spirited literature, resulted in about 25,000 schools buying the American flag in the year 1891 alone.
The school flag movement was recognized by the nation’s education press and was encouraged at the teachers’ meetings. Soon, it would have the support of the National Educational Association and the United States government. Previously, military installations were the only institutions that flew the Flag every day. Upham argued many times that the best national defense was free public school education and, therefore, all public schools should fly the Flag. In 1890, Upham had a contest in the magazine offering a free flag to the winning school in each state for the best essay on the topic, “The Patriotic Influence of the American Flag When Raised Over the Public Schools.” The prize flags were 9 x 15 feet in size.
The Youth’s Companion promotional article of Upham’s stated the following:
“Though there are still many schools which are not as yet provided with the flag, the time does not seem far distant when no public school shall be too poor, too remote, or too indifferent to have the stars and stripes float over its roof.
“Sufficient time has passed since the movement began to make it possible to judge the results of the unfurling of the flag above so many schools…Has it stirred up in the breasts of boys and girls the hope of living to be brave men and women?
“Has it begun to serve with the children of millions from abroad who inherit no love for your country as a symbol around which will grow a thoroughly American feeling?…
“The writer has seen a large number of letters from teachers throughout the country, over whose schools the flag has been raised, which answered these very questions…
“…teachers report a distinct growth of real patriotism. In a school in Maine, ‘Almost every day after the flag raising, one could hear the children cheering the old flag.’
“In this way the schoolhouse flag, seen so often, so constantly present in the pupil’s thoughts, has a marked influence, as several teachers report, upon foreign-born children and the children of foreign-born parents.”
Many schools, in 1892, did not want to pay for a flagpole but found a flag staff from the building was more feasible. (At this time, only military bases routinely had flagpoles on the grounds.) Thus, “Flag Over the Schoolhouse” was sometimes the campaign name for Upham’s school flag program. Today, most states have laws requiring the flag to be flown on a flagpole in front of the school.
The Youth’s Companion and its Premium Department promoted these compulsory flag laws. The magazine maintained a file of such laws and provided free copies of them to any individuals or organizations in states that had not yet passed one. The first flag law was apparently passed in Massachusetts when, in 1895, the Legislature passed an Act making it obligatory upon school committees to provide a flag and flag stall for each schoolhouse.
By 1905, the following states had passed flag laws: All the New England states except Maine, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. The southern states probably had not passed any such laws because the American flag was the hated Union flag and not the flag of the Confederacy.
The Youth’s Companion encouraged the flying of the flag on special national holidays, including Christmas. It also encouraged its readers to buy one for placing on a wall inside the house. One ad recommended hanging a Premium Department’s picture of George Washington and draping the American flag around it.
The Premium Department sold American flags of every size, shape, and price, including a pocket size flag with a carrying case. Perhaps, the most unusual was an apparatus that consisted of a metal flag, enameled in colors, with detachable stars and stripes. The 28-inch long flag could be built up into its proper fields of stars and stripes and was a suggested prop for school celebrations of George Washington’s birthday.
The magazine also sold other types of patriotic materials, for example, General Carrington’s book, Beacon Lights of Patriotism, which contained nearly 300 selections from eminent living statesmen, soldiers, and poets. The ad stated: “The spirit that inspired the founders of our nation must be revived and infused into the multitudes that flock to our land. This is the mission of the book.” Beacon Lights was given to The Youth’s Companion subscribers for one new subscription or bought for 80 cents.
The magazine urged girls in every public school to form a society for “Mending the Flag.” The Premium Department had prepared a kit consisting of a portable cabinet with lock and key, a supply of Red, White, and Blue bunting, needles, thread, and a pair of scissors. The first 10 schools, with such a society, received a free kit. Others had to pay $1.50 or send in two new subscribers.
Upham also promoted the sale of patriotic pictures for classroom walls. In 1893, The Youth’s Companion started a movement for placing portraits of Washington in the public schools. These “Historical Pictures” finally included not only Gilbert Stuart’s George Washington, but also portraits of Lincoln, Longfellow, and Whittier, and about 100 patriotic images, such as: “The Spirit of ’76,” “The Mayflower,” “Mount Vernon,” “Lincoln’s Birthplace,” “The Landing of Columbus,” and “Plymouth Rock.” These prints were commonly seen in public schools through World War II.
Upham also started a beautification program for rural schoolhouses, urging the planting of trees and shrubs and offering free plans and directions. The Companion also sent out an Arbor Day Roll of Honor on which to inscribe the names of the teachers and pupils who carried out the work. Upham thought the grounds of the rural one-room schoolhouse to be in greater need of beautification than that of city schools. Professional educators of his time considered the rural schoolhouse “old fashioned” and Upham was probably of the same belief. He also was one of the first to connect the environment with patriotic education, believing that the school children should know and appreciate native wildlife and plants.
Where did Upham get all this fervor for patriotic education in connection with the public schools? Apparently, it came from both his New England background and his beloved Masonic Order. James Bailey Upham was born in New Hampshire in 1845 and moved, as a small boy, to the Village of Fairfax in northern Vermont. His father, Reverend James Upham, taught Greek and Latin and was the president of the local school—the Literary and Theological Institution. His son, James Bailey Upham, was educated in this school and was 19-years old when the Civil War ended. He never served in the Union Army but he did join the local home guard unit and received some military training.
At the end of the Civil War, Reverend Upham left for Boston, where he was editor of The Watchman and Reflector—the same Baptist journal his brother-in-law, Daniel Ford, had been connected with. He later became the associate editor of the Religious Herald in Richmond, Virginia. James Bailey Upham was his son, by his first wife, and he had one daughter, by a second wife.
After the war, James Bailey Upham went to Detroit and entered the employ of a bookseller and publisher. After a partnership with William Hartshorn, his future brother-in-law, he sold out his interest in 1872 and joined his uncle, Daniel Ford, at The Youth’s Companion in Boston. He married Mary Hartshorn of Milwaukee in 1876. They had two children.
Upham moved to Malden, a northern suburb of Boston, in 1880. A large church edifice there—The First Baptist Church—owes much to his support and enterprise. He lived at number 49 Lincoln Street and is buried in Malden.
Upham was a Knight Templar in the Masonic “Converse Lodge” in Maiden (the Converses were a wealthy local family). The Order of Knights Templar, also known as the American Rite, is the highest order in the York Rite, the largest Masonic organization in the United States. This is the equivalent in prestige to a Thirty-Third Degree Scottish Rite Mason, the top of the Masonic hierarchy.
The core of Freemasons is a system of morality, veiled in allegory, an elaborate mythology, and illustrated by symbols and ritual. The Fraternity believes in mutual assistance among members and in good works of an altruistic and humanitarian nature, such as aid to education, hospitals, and medicine. It looks to the future and believes in human progress.
The Masons, historically, did not admit blacks, mulattoes, or women. Many states would not admit cripples. Since each state grand lodge is independent, the state lodge determines many of the local rules and rituals.
To exaggerate only slightly, many of the Masons believed that the United States of America, itself, was the Mason’s greatest creation. Many of the founding fathers were Masons, including “Brothers” George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and James Monroe. The great Supreme Court Justice, John Marshall, was also a Mason. By the turn of the century, almost half of the American Presidents had been Masons, including Garfield, Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft. The three-time Democratic presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan, was also a member.
The promotion of secular state-run education, as against church-run education, has been an important factor in Masonic history. The modern public school movement in the United States has had a no more consistent supporter than the Mason. Masons believed that there is an essential link between freedom and education and that this linkage requires support for a free, non-sectarian school system. Masons seek to inculcate the ideals of Freemasons and of “Americanism” into local, state, and national affairs. They strive to preserve the fundamentals and principles of the American government, to promote moral values, and to develop America spiritually.
As early as 1642 in Massachusetts, Masons successfully pushed for a law stating that all children were to be taught to read. Believing the public school is the only institution able to combat ignorance and promote “Americanism,” the Masons opposed any aid in any form to parochial schools. (Through the years, the Masons also have been a leading supporter of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State.)
The Catholic Church, in the papal bulls of Clement XII (1738) and Benedict XIV (1751), condemned Free Masons as anti-Catholic. In France and in southern and Eastern Europe, the Masons historically had a pattern of rigorous anti-clericalism and liberalism. Six other popes have spelled out the Catholic position regarding the Masonic Lodge—the most famous encyclical on the subject being issued by Leo XIII in 1894.The Church declared that no Catholic may join a Masonic Lodge without incurring excommunication.
Two major reasons exist for the Church’s position. One is that the Masons present themselves as a religious institution with an elaborate mythology and rites. The second objection is that the Masons administer solemn oaths as part of its initiation ceremony. The Church or State may require oaths for some serious reason, but the oaths and secrecy of the Masons were considered objectionable.
The Masonic influence on Upham is seen in many ways. The Masons’ educational goals included pride of patriotism and love of flag and country, with an “Americanism” program for their accomplishment. Masonic influence is especially apparent in The Youth’s Companion programs, in the Lyceum League of America, and in The Public School Celebration of 1892.
In 1891, Upham started the Lyceum League of America through The Youth’s Companion. The Lyceum League was a patriotic society and debating club under the direction of the magazine and was composed of high school students and recent graduates. The League was intended to supplement the work of the public school and support the spirit of “Americanism,” a common goal not only of the Masons but of many other groups at the time.
Upham copied the public meeting aspect of the League after the village Lyceums that were common in New England. The first Lyceum began in Millbury, Massachusetts in 1826; an innovation of Josiah Holbrook, who was a friend and collaborator of Horace Mann, a leader in the public school movement. A Lyceum organized lectures at regular intervals, usually with a different speaker each week. The lyceum provided adult education and social life at a time when villagers lacked movies, television, the automobile, and often mistrusted the legitimate theater. The only other common diversion was the weekly prayer meeting.
Often, a Lyceum also provided the subscribers with a library, reading room, and lecture hall. By the mid-1830s, there were some 3,000 Lyceums, mostly in the North. A nationwide Lyceum Association eventually led to what would become the National Education Association.
The Companion furnished each of its Lyceum League clubs with a secretary’s book, a president’s gravel, and a parliamentary procedure manual, all packed in a neat box. A list of subjects and books were provided with the box, the books and a bookcase being for sale by the Premium Department.
Three of the recommended books were by the liberal economist and founder of the American Economic Association, Professor Richard T. Ely; The Labor Movement in America, Political Economy, and Problems of Today. Another book was James Bryce’s, The American Commonwealth. Bryce, an English author, saw the United States as setting a course of responsible liberty that would be a model for the world. He saw American institutions as the answer to mankind’s longings, towards which the rest of mankind is being forced to move. Other books were the American Statesmen Series: Biographies of Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, etc. Other books included selections of readings by Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Horace Greeley, Grover Cleveland, and William McKinley. Upham and Francis Bellamy may have drawn up this list of books together.
A Lyceum League club’s program included a ritual somewhat similar to the religious and patriotic ritual of the Mason’s Order of DeMolays. Like the DeMolays, the clubs were to promote patriotism, character, and citizenship for older boys and young men. Since the DeMolays for Boys was not founded until 1920, Upham, apparently, had the idea for such an order 30 years early!
By April 1892, the Lyceum League had 1,200 clubs and 30,000 members with dreams of lining up 200,000 more promising young men. Many clubs were composed of the entire graduating class of a school. The Youth’s Companion hoped that the organization would be composed of the best men from each graduating class. The Youth’s Companion urged club members to promote two The Youth’s Companion campaigns as their major projects for 1892 and 1893: The Public School Celebration of Columbus Day in 1892 and the National Liberty Pole and Flag Raising Ceremony in 1893.
Upham’s idea of the Public School Celebration was to impress the nation with the fact that the American system of free and universal education was the source of America’s greatness and to honor the public school as the most characteristic product of the four centuries of American life.
In April 1890, Congress had passed a Resolution for the World’s Columbian Fair to be held in Chicago. In that same year, Upham began promoting his idea of a Public School Celebration to be built around the Flag and a flag salute. He asked The Companion readers whether or not they liked his idea and the response was good.
The Exposition’s Governing Board was composed of two commissioners appointed by the Governor of each State and Territory, plus eight at-large, and two from the District of Columbia appointed by the President. The Exposition was based on Education in the broadest sense of the word. Charles C. Bonney, a Chicago judge, persuaded the Governing Board into setting up a World’s Congress Auxiliary to take charge of public schools projects. The official groundbreaking was planned for Columbus Day in 1892—the day around which Upham built his Public School Celebration. The actual opening of the Fair would take place in May 1893. In April 1893, a big Naval review would take place in New York Harbor to which the President would invite all the world’s navies to join the United States Navy. Connected with this New York Harbor program would be the Liberty Pole and Flag Raising Ceremony at Navesink, New Jersey, where Upham would be the main speaker and the Lyceum League would provide the flags.
In January 1891, Upham approached the Governing Board of the World’s Columbian Fair for their approval to have all the schools have the same basic program centered around the raising of the flag and the reciting of a flag salute. By January 1892, A. F. Nightingale, President of the American Youth’s Association of the World’s Columbian Exposition, wrote to The Companion and said he supported the National Public School Celebration. He asked The Youth’s Companion to become the official representative of the Youth’s World Congress.
Judge C. C. Bonney, the originator and president of the World’s Youth Congress Auxiliary, which had charge of all congresses and assigned space for the exhibits in the Fair, officially made The Companion the manager of the National Public School Celebration. In January, he wrote the magazine and stated, “The management of the National Public School Celebration of October 11, 1892 now belongs to The Youth’s Companion. The World Congress Auxiliary cheerfully concurs, and will aid all it can in making your work a success.”
Bonney also contacted William T. Harris, United States Commissioner of Education and the National Chairman for all the school projects and exhibits at the Fair. Harris, also a leader and former president of the National Education Association, asked the NEA to join in Upham’s venture. Harris succeeded in this task at the Superintendents of Education Convention held in Brooklyn, New York, on February 16–18, 1892.
Lyceum League members promoted the Public School Celebration in each school. They were to convince their teachers to read a “Message to the Schools” in the classrooms. They were to show their teachers, School Superintendents, and Boards of Education that they wanted to celebrate Columbus Day The Youth’s Companion’s way. Another task was to raise funds for the flags for the lighthouse at Navesink.
The idea of the National Liberty Pole and Flag Raising Ceremony at Navesink came from William Osborne McDowell (1845–1927)—a businessman of Newark, New Jersey and the founder of the Sons of the American Revolution. His project was to erect a gigantic flagpole of unusual height on the Navesink Highlands, on the New Jersey coast near Sandy Hook Point. This is the highest point of land upon the Atlantic Coast in the continental United States and the location of the Navesink Light Station. McDowell saw the twin-towered lighthouse as the ideal place to fly the American flag, where it would be the first thing seen by all those sailing into the New York Harbor, including the immigrants.
Today, this Navesink Light Station is called the “Twin Lights Historic Site” in Highlands, New Jersey and is run by the State Park Service. The federal government, in 1862, built this lighthouse with twin towers. In 1898, it became the America’s first electrically powered lighthouse. From the water, the connecting building and twin towers gives the appearance of a stone fortress. It was against this background that a group of adults recited the Pledge on April 25, 1893.
John Winfield Scott, who was in charge of the New York advertising office of The Youth’s Companion, arranged for the Lyceum League of America to participate in this ceremony. He also arranged for Upham to be a guest on board the flagship in the naval review in New York Harbor.
Upham gave the major address at Navesink. He said the following:
“America has crossed the threshold of her supreme century. Preceding centuries have built but the framework of our nation. Shall America fulfill her divine mission? Then, must she train leaders loyal only to right.
“The times demand a patriotic citizenship, patriotic schools, a patriotic pulpit, a patriotic press. Patriotism in its broadest sense is the propelling force behind this multitude of thoughtful, earnest, young men, whose generous actions make this event today possible…
“In behalf then of the Lyceum League of America, I have the honor to present to the government of the United States these flags. As the future shall behold them floating in their majestic mission, may all hearts wave a glad welcome to the coming millions; a welcome not in bondage and superstitions of the past, but to freedom, enlightenment, and human brotherhood.”
A member of the Daughters of the American Revolution then raised the flag, which was donated by the Lyceum League, and it was saluted by the guns of the United States Navy. A photograph shows all present saluting the Flag, with outstretched right arms, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the first time that adults had recited the Pledge in unison.
Several Lyceum Club members presented the flags as being the gift of the young people of the Lyceum League. This set of oversized flags was presented to the government for the flying for the first time of the American Flag at the lighthouse. Francis Bellamy, with Upham and McDowell beside him, led the group in reciting the Pledge.
The Lyceum League seems to have declined and eventually disappeared in the 1890’s. Francis Bellamy, just before he left The Youth’s Companion, suggested that the League permit girls to join, but this step was not taken.
William McDowell was a leader in several new patriotic organizations. He had a role in organizing the Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution. He was a friend of Henry Baldwin, a leader in the American Protection Association and the American Patriotic League, but was not as bigoted against immigrants and Catholics.
McDowell established “The Committee of the Society of Pan-American Republics,” also known as the “Human Freedom League.” He formed the society for the purpose of uniting all the republics of the world and committing them to the principles of arbitration in international affairs. He hoped that each republic would place a border of white around its flag as a hopeful prophecy of the principle of peace among nations.
After raising the Liberty Pole at Navesink, McDowell hoped to raise similar poles in France, Switzerland, and Brazil. He wrote to Carnot, the President of the French Republic, but had no success in persuading France to join the Human Freedom League. Another organization that McDowell helped to found, the Sons of the American Revolution, also refused to help finance the Liberty Pole project. Financial embarrassment associated with the Columbian Liberty Bell Committee, which he chaired, also prevented McDowell from promoting his Human Freedom League. Money troubles may have compromised his association with James Upham because he asked The Companion for about $1,000 to pay his construction expenses associated with the National Liberty Pole at Navesink Highlands.
As we will see in Chapter Six on the authorship controversy, The Youth’s Companion continued to promote the Pledge until its demise in the 1920s. The magazine began its financial decline in 1915 when the management built a new building for its headquarters near the present site of Boston University. The new building created a debt that could not be liquidated, and as the size of the organization was not cut, its financial difficulties increased substantially.
Even though the printers had a strike in 1920, the management of the magazine refused to save expenses for The Companion by laying off the older employees in favor of younger workers. The management kept their employees on their jobs until The Companion became insolvent. In 1925, it moved to the Atlantic Monthly headquarters on Arlington Street. In 1929, it disappeared as part of the American Boy, which was published in Detroit. Unfortunately, almost all of The Youth’s Companion archives have been lost.
American Socialists and Reformers
In 1892, most of the nation had heard of Edward Bellamy (1850–1898), but very few people knew the name of Edward’s first cousin, Francis Bellamy (1855–1931). During their lifetimes, Edward Bellamy’s name was much better known than Francis’. Even today, with almost the whole nation reciting Francis’ Pledge, perhaps more people know the name of Edward Bellamy, although neither is recognized by the vast majority of Americans.
In 1892, Edward Bellamy was famous as the author of the best seller, Looking Backward, and the leader of a socialist movement called “Nationalism.” Francis Bellamy was a vice president of the Christian Society of Socialists, an auxiliary of Edward’s Nationalist movement. Francis worked as a lieutenant in the campaign to gradually and peacefully nationalize the American economy. Occasionally Edward and Francis were mistaken for brothers since both were involved in Nationalism and were only five years apart in age.
Their fathers were brothers who both spent their lives in the Baptist ministry. Edward’s father, Rufus King Bellamy (1816–1886) was a younger brother of Francis’ father, David Bellamy (1806–1864). Edward was raised in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, now part of Chicopee, near Springfield. Francis spent most of his childhood in Rome, New York.
Their grandfather was Jonathan Bellamy (1781–1845), a successful merchant in Washington County, New York. The earliest Bellamy ancestors to arrive in New England had come to Connecticut from England in the 1630’s. The most famous of their New England ancestors was Jonathan’s grandfather, Joseph Bellamy (1719–1790). He had studied under Jonathan Edwards and was a life-long friend and lieutenant in his famous revival, the “Great Awakening.” Although Jonathan Edwards’ fire and brimstone theology is now mainly a curiosity, Joseph Bellamy’s writings still have an honored place in many seminaries. His theology was compatible with the spirit of the American Revolution.
The orthodox Christianity of the 18th and 19th Century often placed the entire responsibility for the sad condition of humanity on the sins of individuals. Marxist theories in the 19th Century assumed that individual defects of character were chiefly the result of a faulty economic, political, and social environment. Edward and Francis Bellamy took the intermediate position that both personal character traits and economic, political, and social organizations were responsible for many of the miseries of mankind.
Edward was born in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts on March 26, 1850. Rufus King Bellamy, his father, was the Baptist minister for 35 years in this village, which is now part of Chicopee on the edge of Springfield, Massachusetts.
Edward was educated in the public school of the village. He was a leader, during the 1860s, in the Chicopee Young Men’s Lyceum, a debating society. Even then, his radical ideas were beginning to show.
Edward had hoped to enter West Point, but his health was too poor. (His health was not good most of his life and he died of tuberculosis at age 48.) He studied briefly at Union College in 1867–1868 and then went abroad to travel, mainly in Germany and France. It was the sight of the slums in Europe that first brought before him the plight of the poor. On his return to America, he saw similar conditions in New York and Boston and realized that Chicopee and Springfield were slowly drifting toward the same dismal conditions.
Back in America, he studied law in the office of Leonard & Wells in Springfield and was admitted to the Bar in 1871, but he practiced only a few months, because he saw the law as one more way the wealthy exploited the poor. He then moved into the newspaper world. In 1871, he was an editorial contributor to the New York Evening Post and then an editorial writer and columnist on the staff of the Springfield Daily Union from 1872–1877.
In 1881, Edward married Emma A. Sanderson and they had two children. Their son, Paul, became editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and their daughter, Mrs. Earnshaw, tried to revive Edward’s Nationalist movement in the Great Depression, when she was president of the International Alliance of Bellamy Clubs.
In 1880, Edward and his brother, Charles, founded the Springfield Daily News. Charles Bellamy wrote several books critical of the social and industrial conditions of the factory system, one being The Breton Mills, published in 1879. Much of the brothers’ analysis of the American economy came from watching the changes in Chicopee during the 1870s and 1880s.
During this period, Chicopee changed from a New England village to a mill town, with large numbers of skilled and semi-skilled factory workers. The working class was growing and was becoming to be composed of Irish, French-Canadian, and Polish workers, who were devout Roman Catholics. By the 1870’s, the Irish were supplanting the Yankee middle class in the political leadership of the growing town. By 1875, 35 per cent of the total population was of foreign birth.
Edward vigorously criticized child labor, the growing “caste” system in society, and the “feudalism” of industrial organization. The Village of Chicopee and the City of Springfield were growing with the industrial revolution and the evils of the factory system were visible to Edward within walking distance from his home.
Edward soon turned the newspaper business over to his brother and began to devote his full time to writing stories. William Dean Howells, the leading literary critic of his day, thought him the literary successor of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Many of his stories were related to the life of the native New Englanders in Chicopee. The growing town’s social life was characteristic of small town life throughout the country. The high point of this middle-class community was in the 1870’s and, socially, life was fuller than it ever had been. The decade was marked by the growth of Lyceums and debating societies, an increase in the number of concerts and lectures, the organization of brass bands and singing societies, and of baseball teams, tennis clubs, and even a country club. Amateur theatricals were popular and there was a rapid proliferation of the fraternal lodges and societies. Drawing classes, spelling bees, and parties of all kinds were frequent. Meanwhile, the solid citizenry busied itself with social work, which sometimes involved the cause of temperance work.
But the atmosphere of Edward’s short stories reflected another part of Yankee village life in the 1870s and 1880s. This was Mary Baker Eddy’s world—a world of lonely people who had lost their vital interests and were bored and ailing. Edward’s tales mirrored this boredom. He then struck out on a line that was followed by H.G. Wells a decade later. In the small town of which he wrote, with all its interest in pseudo-science, there was also an interest in actual science. The marvels of applied science appealed to their Yankee inventiveness and his stories began to reflect this feeling and envisioned possibilities for the future, based on advances in physics, mechanics, and psychology.
His first novel, The Duke of Stockbridge was serialized in The Berkshire Courier in 1879. (It was later edited and republished as a book by Francis Bellamy in 1900). In 1880, Edward published Dr. Heidnehoff’s Process. This, with his other novel, Mrs. Ludington’s Sister, was concerned with psychic phenomena in which he then had an interest. But he never returned to this theme, and his writings became exclusively concerned with social and economic issues.
The widespread labor unrest of the late 1870s and 1880s, culminating in the bloody Haymarket Square Riot in Chicago in 1886, deeply disturbed Edward. The trial of the five Chicago anarchists involved in the riot showed him that Americans would kill five innocent people for their unpopular socialist beliefs. All of this found expression in Edward’s most famous book, Looking Backward. Published in 1888, it sold over 100,000 copies in its first year. Eventually, over a million copies were printed in the United States and Europe and it was translated into over 20 languages.
Looking Backward was the best-selling book in the decade following its publication and the third most popular work of fiction in the 19th Century, ranking just behind Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Ben Hur. Its intellectual and emotional influence was enormous. In 1935, the philosopher, John Dewey, and historian, Charles Beard, ranked Looking Backward as one of the two most influential books published between 1885 and 1935. Some economists ranked it just behind Marx’s Das Kapital as the most influential book on economics published in the 19th Century. Mark Twain was fascinated by the book and invited Edward Bellamy to visit him. William Dean Howells said that it moved the nation more than any other American work. (Howells eventually became a socialist who followed Tolstoy’s type of Christian Socialism.)
Looking Backward is the story of Julian West, who falls into a deep trance—like sleep in 1887 and awakens 113 years later in a glorious new Boston. He finds that the United States, by the year 2000, has become a giant corporation utilizing every conceivable laborsaving device in order to increase productivity and consumer happiness. Each citizen is a shareholder in this giant enterprise and all have equal incomes. The men, like Army draftees, join the country’s “industrial army” at the age of 21 and serve until age 45, when they may retire. As in the Army, the government assigns all jobs according to the country’s needs. Those assigned to the most arduous jobs work the shortest hours and vice versa. The role of the Victorian heroine and other women in this socialist utopia is a little unclear, but it did give the Victorian women an example of a middle-class woman freely joining the work force and escaping the drudgery of housekeeping—an idea considered “radical” by many conservatives of the time.
There are no wars, no political parties, no politicians, no paper money. Citizens are issued credit cards that are used to draw goods from public storehouses, which look much like today’s shopping malls. Everyone receives the same amount of credit yearly. Arrogance, servility, envy, and greed are at a minimum.
Bellamy pictured the transition to a secure and happy utopia as taking place by natural stages from an economy dominated by capitalistic monopolies to one owned by the government. Unlike Marxists, Bellamy did not see class war as an inevitable step in the transition from capitalism to socialism. His utopian socialism was to be reached through peaceful and gradual transition, not through violent proletarian revolution.
Although Looking Backward foreshadowed scientific discoveries, such as radio and credit cards, it was chiefly concerned with the social values and spiritual gains which universal economic security and equality might give to a modern society.
Around the nation, some of the readers of Looking Backward desired to discuss the social implications of this novel and to promote its vision of the future. “Bellamy Clubs,” soon to be called “Nationalist Clubs,” were organized throughout the nation. Eventually, 167 clubs were formed; a few of them were headed by people still famous, such as Clarence Darrow of the Chicago Nationalist Club. Thus, Looking Backward led to the formation of a movement that had an important influence on the politics of the 1888–1892 period and, later, on the reforms of the Progressive Era.
The first Nationalist Club was formed in Boston. On September 18, 1888, two Civil War veterans, Captain Charles E. Bowers and General A.F. Devereux, formed the “Boston Bellamy Club.” Bellamy had received correspondence from other people in the Boston area interested in the same subject. He had invited Cyrus Field Willard, of the Boston Globe, and Sylvester Baxter, of the Boston Herald, to a December meeting at Captain Bowers’ office. Also attending were five Christian Socialists, Alzire A. Chevallier, of the Christian Science Monitor, Frederick White, Reverend WED. Bliss, Edward Everett Hale, and William Dean Howells.
On December 15, 1888, they formed the Boston Nationalist Club. Edward Bellamy, who attended this meeting, insisted that his name not be used, and at Captain Bowers’ suggestion, the name “Nationalist” was substituted. This “Nationalism” signified not “my country over others” but “nationalization” or public ownership and management of the economy.
Cyrus Field Willard had been a member of the Socialist Labor Party but had become discouraged by their disputes and dissensions. He was labor editor of the Boston Globe. Sylvester Baxter was an editorial writer on the Boston Herald. Both men were also leaders in the American Theosophist Society—a small religious movement that tried to combine the best of the religions of the Far East with Christianity. Baxter soon became president of the Theosophical Society in Malden where James Upham lived.
Eventually, this Nationalist Club was called the Boston Nationalist Club Number One to distinguish it from the Boston Nationalist Club Number Two, which was founded in1889. The Boston Nationalist Club Number One held discussions on theory and values. Its activities included lectures, discussions, and contacts with various worldwide socialist and reform movements in conjunction with its religious auxiliary; the Society of Christian Socialists.
Many of its club’s members were men of letters, such as William Dean Howells, Edward Everett Hale, and Thomas Wentworth Higginson. It published The Nationalist (1889–1891)—a monthly edited by Henry Willard Austin. Contributors included Edward Bellamy, Higginson, Hale, Bliss, Sylvester, and Baxter.
Two charter members of this Nationalist Club became leaders in the Society of Christian Socialists—an auxiliary formed in Boston on February 18, 1889. They were Edward’s cousin, Francis Bellamy, then a Baptist minister, and Rev. WDP Bliss of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Bliss became President and Francis Bellamy, Vice President in charge of Education.
Very soon after the Society of Christian Socialists was organized, its monthly publication, The Dawn, was founded. Its managing editor was Rev. WDP Bliss and among its associate editors were Edward Bellamy and Frances Willard, President of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.
The Society’s Declaration of Principles reflected Francis Bellamy’s economic beliefs. The principles stated that economic rights and powers were gifts of God, not for the receiver’s use only, but for the benefit of all. All social, political, and industrial relations should be based on the Fatherhood ofbGod and the Brotherhood of Man, in the spirit of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Capitalism was not based on Christian love but on a selfish individualism. (Today we might use the words “free market system” or “free enterprise” for “capitalism.” The term “free enterprise” was coined in the 1930’s by the National Association of Manufacturers because the word, “capitalism,” labeled an economic system blamed by many for the misery of the Great Depression.)
The Christian Socialists, like other socialists, believed the social results of capitalismbwere undesirable. The natural resources of the earth and the mechanical inventions of man were made to accrue disproportionately to the advantage of the few. Because production was unplanned, commercial and industrial crises, now called business recessions or depressions, were common. The control of business was rapidly concentrating in the hands of a dangerous plutocracy, and thus, the destiny of the masses of wage earners was becoming increasingly dependent on the will and resources of a narrowing number of employers. The greed and selfishness of the capitalist system encouraged the moral evils of mammonism, recklessness, overcrowding, intemperance, prostitution, and crime.
Christians should protest against such an economic system and should demand a reconstructed social order based on the principle that “We are members one of another.” The tendency of businesses to form combinations and trusts would eventually result in the development of a few giant business monopolies that would be taken over peacefully by the federal, state, and local governments. These democratic governments then would build a new order based upon a socialist economic system combined with Christian love and charity.
A major objective of the Christian Socialists was to show that the objectives of socialism were embraced in the goals of Christianity. The teachings of Jesus Christ lead directly toward some form of socialism and, in obedience to Christ, the Christian Church should apply itself to the realization of the Social Gospel of Christianity through Socialism.
In an article in The Dawn, “Aims and Methods” (August, 1889), Francis Bellamy stated that Christian Socialists had entered into their organization for the propagation of these convictions. He argued that the members of the Church should recognize that the capitalistic system was questionable from the point of view of righteousness and that, until the system was questioned, the ethics of Jesus could not be introduced into business.
Francis believed the Bible clearly promoted the principles of socialism. In the Old Testament, the sayings of Moses were based upon a socialistic conception of the state. In the New Testament, Jesus preached a Social Gospel of the duties of the strong to the weak and the Gospel of the Golden Rule. Christ said that, “They that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition, for the love of money is the root of all evil” and, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
Early disciples of the church and the writers of the New Testament, such as the Apostle James and the Apostle John, believed that church members should look out for each other. James, possibly the brother of Jesus, said, “…Ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you…your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as if it were fire…behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud…”
Some theologians would argue that some of the early Christian fellowships were communistic, but probably few would agree with Francis Bellamy that they were socialistic. Some believed in “primitive communism” in the sense that they believed in sharing their wealth and income. Probably, none believed that the government (then the Roman Empire) should own all productive resources, which then included slaves.
“Communism” was the ultimate goal of the Communist Party in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and for most other “Communist” countries in the 20th Century. However, their actual economies were not primitive communism but rather totalitarian state socialism with little equality of income. Atheism was the state’s official “religion.”
Marx hoped the state would wither away eventually after a stage of state socialism, but the totalitarian socialist governments, run by the communist parties in the 20th Century, showed no tendency to give up power willingly. The communist parties in these totalitarian socialist states were as exploitative as any capitalist class. As the only political party permitted in the Soviet Union, the Communist Party claimed that only it knew the truth of “scientific materialism” and that the expression of other political points of view was a criminal act.
The communists and socialists believed that the miseries of the human race were due almost entirely to faulty methods of production and especially of distribution. They believed that the wants and hunger of humanity would be transformed into abundance by economic and political planning. The results would be a utopia.
Francis Bellamy, as a Vice President in the Society of Christian Socialists, was an active speaker and chairman of its Educational Committee. His lectures included, “The Socialism of the Bible,” “What is Christian Socialism?”, “Jesus the Socialist,” and “How Many Angels Can Live on the Point of a Needle?”—about the poor women in sweat shops. He gave a series of sermons on the socialism of the primitive Church, drawn from the Acts of the Apostles.
He designed, taught, and promoted two courses for the Society’s education program called, “Classes in the Study of Social Christianity.” The contents of the first course was as follows:
I. An Edward Bellamy Digest of his book, Looking Backward.
II. The Yesterday of Labor, or the Rule of Might.
III. The Today of Labor, or Something is Still Wrong.
IV. The Tomorrow of Labor of What Can be Done.
V. The Subject Reviewed in the Light of the Bible.
The second course covered the following topics:
I. The Competitive System.
II. Cooperation and Profit Sharing.
III. Socialism versus Anarchy.
IV. Christian Socialism.
The classes met once a month or more. Members of the class paid a fee and received a six-month subscription to The Dawn. Instruction was loosely based on the Socratic method. The subjects fitted well into the themes of the Nationalist Movement.
Francis Bellamy believed that the multitude of new Nationalist Clubs demonstrated that his faith in Christian Socialism was not a passing fad. Like Daniel Ford, Francis believed that there was an immense chasm between the masses of workers and the church. The workers cheered the name of Christ and hissed the name of the Church.
He recommended that Christian ministers, like himself, should preach the Social Gospel, write letters to the newspapers and magazines, circulate The Dawn, represent Christian Socialism at ministers’ meetings and general religious assemblies, and use the churches on weeknights to discuss Christian Socialism and the social gospel of Jesus Christ.
On October 24, 1889, a second Nationalist Club was founded in Boston. This Nationalist Club Number Two was much more oriented towards political action on the local level. In 1890, it pressured the Massachusetts State Legislature for the right of municipalities to set up their own electric, gas, and water utilities. The electric and gas companies opposed giving the municipalities this “socialist” right, but, after several ups-and-downs, the legislation passed in 1891. During the hearings, Richard T. Ely, liberal economist and author on the James Upham’s Lyceum League of America’s reading list, had a role in presenting arguments for municipal ownership of public utilities.
The founder and President of Boston Nationalist Club Number Two was Henry Legate, a lawyer. He and other members also succeeded in demanding that Boston have a fuel department to buy coal not only for the various departments of the city, but also for citizens that wished to buy it. This bill passed in 1892, but, eventually, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts overthrew it. Legate, on December 3, 1892, prepared and began the circulation of a petition for the nationalization of the telegraph and telephone systems as part of the post office department.
During this period, the Lynn Nationalist Club, located just north of Boston, had initiated an industrial-school petition. This was for a law to require children to attend school through their 15th year and to attend for 35 weeks a year, instead of 20 weeks. Industrial training was to be provided free in the larger towns and cities. This Bill was bitterly opposed by the textile manufacturers, who were using child labor. The Providence Journal stated a common objection to public education and especially to free textbooks: “By insensibly demoralizing the minds of the beneficiaries and undermining their position of independence and self-reliance, [free books] would soon give us a generation of voters that would be much more inclined…towards a socialistic method of public management.”
By 1891, Francis Bellamy was recognized as one of the leading spokesmen for his cousin’s Nationalist movement. Although he had resigned as minister of Bethany Baptist Church and had gone to work for The Youth’s Companion in April 1891, he continued to give occasional talks for the Society of Christian Socialists and the Nationalists.
In the middle of 1891, he was asked to write an article for the Arena magazine defending the Nationalist movement from charges that the Nationalists were promoting a totalitarian form of socialism. The Arena magazine was a liberal magazine published in Boston. Its editor, B.O. Flower, in the May issue had written an editorial, “Is Socialism Desirable?” to lead off a series of articles discussing the ideas of the Nationalists.
Edward Bellamy argued that Flower was a Nationalist, but did not know it; and Flower expressed surprise that he should be considered a Nationalist. Flower, somewhat like Daniel Ford, believed that the socialistic beliefs and activities of the Nationalists were a catalyst for needed reform. However, like many other liberal Americans, he feared that a “Nationalist” economy, planned and controlled by the federal government and managed like the Army, would turn into totalitarian socialism and, possibly, military despotism.
In his article, “The Tyranny of All the People,” in the July 1891 issue of the Arena, Francis Bellamy defended his cousin’s form of Socialism. Francis argued that the industrial army type of socialism, described in Looking Backward, could be democratic and not totalitarian. Both Edward and Francis believed that a nation should represent unity, family, fatherland, and fraternity. If Edward’s socialism should turn into military socialism, Francis argued that the American people would vote it out of office.
He furthered contended that a modern industrial society needed the strong arm of government to protect the weak from the tyranny of giant corporations. Most of the maxims of the business system and its profit motive contradicted the Christian law of love, making it impossible for both business and working people to obey the Sermon on the Mount. Socialism would produce a work environment where the Golden Rule would thrive.
In his May editorial in the Arena, Flower had argued that the state is naturally tyrannical and not naturally benevolent and only limits on the state created a free nation. Human nature had a tendency toward popular despotism. Individualism and economic liberty were necessary to protect the people’s freedom from government abuse.
In the August issue, Reverend Minot J. Savage, Congregationalist clergyman and writer, argued against Nationalism as a form of state socialism, but did point out that Edward and Francis Bellamy’s belief in a slow evolution of economic, social, and political reforms was the right approach to the nation’s problems. He agreed with the Nationalists that the people should vote against corporate control of Congress, state legislatures, and local councils. Monopolies should have their prices controlled, as recommended by leading economist Richard Ely. The ruthless methods of large corporations, such as Standard Oil, would be attacked by the muckrakers and other reformers in the next decade.
In the October issue of the Arena, Thaddeus B. Wakeman, lawyer and leading Nationalist, defended Francis Bellamy from Savage’s criticism. He argued that Bellamy’s type of socialism would not lead to military despotism and helpless subordination for everyone, but would work for the “liberty, equality, and welfare of all.”
In 1891, Edward began a new socialist periodical of his own called The New Nation (1891–1894). Mason A. Green, from the Republican in Springfield, was the managing editor and Bellamy its guiding spirit. Its office was in Boston and Edward spent four days a week here to coordinate its activities.
Many of the reform ideas of Francis Bellamy are reflected in The New Nation. One common thread was municipal ownership of water, streetcar lines, gas, and electricity. Francis had spoken and written on the desirability of such public ownership on several occasions. Other reforms urged in The New Nation were a free school system, women’s suffrage, the nationalization of the liquor business, right to a job, the eight-hour day, safety laws, public baths, and the elimination of child labor.
About 70 per cent of space in The New Nation consisted of news on monopolies, oppression of workers and unions, poverty, nationalization of industries, and public ownership of utilities. Its weekly circulation eventually reached 8,000. The paper was eventually given up, in 1894, because it was losing money and the Nationalist movement was dying. In the heyday of the movement, there were 165 Nationalist clubs scattered throughout the country, and many local papers were published that were devoted wholly or, in part, to the cause. (In 1890, there were about five such papers being issued in California alone.)
The Nationalist movement and Society of Christian Socialists had connections with the Fabian Society in England. Sidney Webb, of the Fabian Society, wrote an occasional article for The Dawn and Edward sometimes wrote an occasional article for the Fabian publications. When interest in the Christian Society of Socialists and The Dawn began to decline, W.P.D. Bliss founded the American Fabian in 1895. In 1896, he turned it over to the New York Fabian Society, where it survived until 1900.
It is generally recognized that the Bellamy type of Fabian Socialism had done more to make the American middle class think seriously about social principles than any other force in the latter part of the 19th Century. The British Fabian Society, under Sidney Webb and George Bernard Shaw, had a role in founding the British Labor Party.
The high point of the political activity of the members of the Nationalist movement was in the People’s Party’s Congressional and Presidential Campaign of November 1892. The People’s Party was organized in Cincinnati in May 1891 by a National Convention composed primarily of representatives of the agricultural and industrial classes. The Party grew out of the movements previously inaugurated by the Granges and the Farmers’ Alliances. They first went into active politics in 1890, when they carried Kansas and Nebraska and elected nine members of Congress.
Their platform included abolition of the national banking system’s issue of fiat money; loans to the people at two per cent or less on nonperishable agricultural products; free and unlimited coinage of silver; national ownership of public communications system and transportation; the graduated income tax, and prohibition of alien ownership of land.
On July 2, 1892, the People’s Party National Convention in Omaha, Nebraska, nominated for President a former Union General and Congressman, James B. Weaver, of Iowa. He had been the National Greenback Party’s candidate for the Presidency in 1880. In 1892, he received over a million votes and 22 electoral votes and his party won several farm state legislatures and five United State Senators.
A curious sidelight of this Campaign is that the People’s Party nominated Henry Winn, of Maiden, for Massachusetts Governor. Winn was a disciple of Edward Bellamy and Henry George, but he won only a handful of votes. When, however, the populist Independent Party, of Malden, nominated Henry Winn for Mayor, he won the office by a plurality of 390 votes in November 1892. Could James Upham, a Malden resident, have voted for him, thus expressing support for Edward Bellamy’s movement?
The Nationalists did not realize it but 1892 was the apex of their movement. The Depression of 1893–1896 slowed down the reformers, and the Democratic Party captured the populists in 1896. Although William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech came from Looking Backward, both Bellamys were disappointed with Bryan’s populism and Francis, at least, considered him a rabble-rousing demagogue. Most of the reforms they advocated in 1892 did not take place until the Progressive Era Presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.
Edward Bellamy’s health began to decline in the 1890’s and he died from consumption in Chicopee in 1898. He spent the last years of his life writing Equality, which was published in 1897. It was not nearly as successful as Looking Backward but it developed his socialist themes in much more explicit detail. In Equality, he advocated equality for both sexes and all races. Bellamy’s theme, of equality in the work place for women and their right to work outside the home, had an important early role in helping middle-class women join the work force and fight for their right to vote.
Bellamy’s influence shows up in other ways. His vision of Boston, in the year 2000, as a planned “Garden City,” led to the development of the British New Towns and Garden Suburb movements, which, in turn, influenced American city planning and development. This is seen today in the New Deal Town of Greenbelt, Maryland, and more recently in the privately built Reston, Virginia and Columbia, Maryland. Both Rexford Guy Tugwell, who led in the construction and planning of Greenbelt, and President Franklin Roosevelt recognized the influence of Looking Backward on their lives. But, perhaps, his most lasting impact on American society was through Francis Bellamy’s Pledge and through John Dewey—the leading American educational philosopher of the 20th Century.
As public education increasingly came to be seen as the principle engine of an “intentionally progressive” society—the phrase was John Dewey’s—interest groups, with divergent views of what that society ought to be, staked their claims to education and, in the process, politicized the public schools in order to maintain or create the America of their ideals. Many reformers thought that long-term reforms in society were as achievable through education as through politics. An early example of this is the Farmers’ Alliances distribution of free copies of Looking Backward as a consciousness-raising device for their members in the 1890’s. Another example was James Upham’s Flag Over the School Campaign. Another example was the National Education Association.
The leader in public education, in the 19th Century, was Massachusetts, whose Horace Mann liked to argue that, “As the child is father to the man, so may the training of the schoolroom expand into the institutions and fortunes of the state.” Mann set up the first normal school or teachers’ college. During the 1890’s and 1900’s, public schooling expanded to serve all children and at older ages. Tracts were filled with millennial bursts of secular enthusiasm for public educational institutions.
In 1892, the public school systems were still dominated by local school boards, but the National Education Association hoped to centralize education under the control of professional educators. The leader of this group was William Torrey Harris (1835–1909), who dominated the National Association of School Superintendents, which in turn dominated the NEA. Harris had joined the St. Louis public school system in 1857 and from 1867 to 1880, he was superintendent of St. Louis schools. Between 1880 and 1889, he helped establish the Concord School of Philosophy near Boston. He was President and Life Director of the NEA and President of the National Association of School Superintendents. He represented the federal Bureau of Education at the Paris Exposition in 1889 and the Chicago Centennial in 1892–93.
Although Harris had called Edward Bellamy’s Nationalism as repressive to the individual as the rule of a king, he believed in a state-controlled public school system. As the leading Hegelian philosopher in the United States, he believed that the State had a central role in society. He believed youth should be trained in loyalty to the State and that the public school was the institution to plant fervent loyalty and patriotism. Like many other American educators of his time, he admired and copied the Prussian educational system. His support enabled James Upham and Francis Bellamy to take over the National Celebration of the Public Schools for Columbus Day, which was officially directed by the NEA’s special committee, chaired by Francis Bellamy.
One of Harris’s allies was Charles W. Eliot, President of Harvard University. The National Educational Association, in July 1892, appointed a Committee of 10 on the subject of uniformity in public school programs, especially in relation to requirements for college admission. Eliot was the chairman and Harris, then US Commissioner of Education, was one of its all male committee members. (Both Harris and Elliot openly advocated a limited role for women in the work force.)
The committee unanimously declared that there is a best way of beginning and pursuing each subject, which every class should follow; that the topics within a subject can be defined with a good deal of precision; that every subject taught in the secondary schools should be presented in the same way; and that most of the instruction should be addressed to classes and not to individual pupils.
The National Educational Association was founded in 1857 as the Teachers Association and renamed the NEA in 1870. Women were admitted in 1860 but the first woman wasn’t elected President until 1910. At the same time, it first endorsed women’s suffrage.
In 1904, a National Colored Teachers Association formed and soon changed its name to National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools. It was renamed the American Teachers Association in 1937. In 1926, it began some collaboration with the NEA. In 1954, the Supreme Court overturned its 1896 Plessey v. Ferguson “separate but equal” ruling. In 1963, the NEA and ATA began preparation for a merger, which took place in 1966. In 1968, it elected its first black President.
John Dewey, like Edward Bellamy, saw the schools as shaping the fabric of society. In 1892, professional educators were ready to change the world of education. They considered teachers and local boards of education too ill-equipped to handle the demands of “modern” education and they were ready, through teachers’ colleges and State education departments, to give the orders on how to run American schools, including its programs for patriotic education. Most educators in 1892 considered women and blacks inferior as students to white males and they were not interested in the “equality” and reform messages of Edward Bellamy. But John Dewey was ready to advocate Edward Bellamy’s type of education and to reform American society through “progressive education.”
Dewey (1859–952), born and raised in Vermont, had gone from Johns Hopkins University, in 1884, to the University of Michigan and, in 1894, to the University of Chicago as head of the Department of Philosophy, Psychology and Education. In 1892, under the influence of Edward Bellamy, Dewey tried to start a monthly magazine, Thought News, with the objective of discussing political, educational, and social issues from a socialist perspective.
Dewey was interested in the socialist economic experiments in the Union of the Soviet Socialists Republics. Between 1920 and 1928, he wrote 15 articles for the New Republic on the new educational system in the Soviet Union. In 1928, he visited the Soviet Union, studied its educational system, and wrote several articles and a book on the topic.
He never became a true communist sympathizer because he was too objective about the reality of the Soviet experiment. He headed a commission to hear the case of Leon Trotsky, who was opposed, defamed, and eventually murdered by Joseph Stalin. In Mexico in 1937 and 1938, Dewey and his committee held the investigation of the charges made against Trotsky. After reading and hearing Stalin’s charges, Dewey and his colleagues published two volumes in which Trotsky was exonerated. The hearing reaffirmed Dewey’s opposition to totalitarian socialism and his commitment to democratic socialism.
In an April 1934, article in Common Sense; Dewey states why he favored Edward Bellamy’s socialism as reflected in Looking Backward and Equality. It is also a good summary of the differences between Bellamy and Marx’s socialism:
“He uses his picture of the new order as a means of making us realize, by force of contrast, the realities of the social world in which we now actually live…It was evolved by his own brooding on the injustices, oppression, and wreckage attendant on the present economic system, and that when he had seen these things for himself, he employed his imagination of a social order based on economic equality to enable others to see what he had himself seen and felt. Many persons have indicted the present system. But what enabled Bellamy’s books to be circulated by the hundreds of thousands was that his indictment operated through imagination, setting forth what was possible. The result is a sense of the terrible gulf between what is possible and what is actual.
“He gives a statement of the principle that, from a technical intellectual point of view, underlies his indictment of the present economic system…that individuals might acquire an unlimited ownership of things as far as their abilities permit. But this view absolutely ignores the social consequence, which results from the unequal distribution of material things, in a world where everybody absolutely depends for life and all its uses on their share of those things. In this simple sentence, Bellamy has given the unanswerable reply to those moralists, who unwittingly defend the existing order, by making a sharp separation between the material on one side and the ethical and ideal on the other. Bellamy’s communism rests on an ethical base rather than upon a view that is sometimes called scientific, because of its abstraction from considerations of human well-being. But his ethical principle always takes cognizance of the dependence of human life and its supreme values upon equal access to and control over material things. In doing that, it makes ample place for all the factors that ‘scientific’ communists have emphasized, regarding the political and social power that is exercised by economic relations of production and distribution.
“He portrayed the complete contradiction between our present economic system and the realization of human equality and liberty. No one has carried through the idea that equality is obtainable only by complete equality of income more fully than Bellamy…
“This approach inevitably suggests comparison and contrast with that of Marx. Bellamy’s most obvious indebtedness to Marx is in connection with his adoption of the idea that the present system is resulting in greater and greater concentration of capital…and the fact that this concentration would result in the organization and socialization of labor, while the final outcome would be a society economically communist in nature. The most obvious point of contrast is found in Bellamy’s conviction that the revolution would be essentially peaceful in nature. He imagined that by the end of the 19th Century the trust movement would have resulted in the practical consolidation of the entire capital of the nation, so that the ‘logical’ next step, in evolution, would be its nationalization and administration for the benefit of the people.
“It is fairly evident that Bellamy was too much under the influence of the idea of evolution in its Victorian sense. Consequently, he thought, on the one hand, that the mass of the people would realize the great transitional service rendered by the system of consolidated capitalism, while on the other hand, it is implied that those who control this system would be impotent in the face of the public demand that the final logical step be taken. It is a moderate comment that Bellamy was not conscious of how long the capitalist psychology would remain active, even among the laborers and farmers, after the capitalist system had broken down, and that he did not realize the extent of sabotage, so brilliantly exposed by Veblen, that prevails among the capitalist class—witness the manipulations by insiders carried on at the expense of stockholders.
“There is another point in Bellamy’s theory in relation to Marx’s, that remains ambiguous. The administrative government plays a large part in Bellamy’s theory. On the face of it, there is no ‘withering away of the state.’ At the same time, in view of Marx’s definition of the state as the agent of class domination, it may be that the difference is more verbal than real. For Bellamy’s administrative government is certainly the expression of a classless society.
“I wish that those, who conceive that the abolition of private capital and of energy expended for profit, signify complete regimenting of life and the abolition also of all personal choice and all emulation, would read with an open mind Bellamy’s picture of a socialized economy… ln an incidental chapter on the present servility to fashion, he brings out the underlying principle…Equality creates an atmosphere which kills imitation, and is pregnant with originality, for everyone acts out himself, having nothing to gain by imitating anyone else. It is the present system that promotes uniformity, standardization and regimentation.
“From the standpoint of their immediate task in Europe, Marx and Lenin may have been right in being chary of prognosis of the future classless society. It seemed to them part of a hated idealism to indulge in imaginative picturization. But the value of judging the present, in terms of imagination of what is possible in the future, nowhere appears more clearly than in Bellamy’s account of private life and the direction that emulation takes under a system of socialized production and distribution.
“It is not surprising that during the present bankruptcy of economic class control, there is a great revival of interest in Bellamy. It is an American communism that he depicts, and his appeal comes largely from the fact that he sees in it the necessary means of realizing the democratic ideal…I hope that what I have said will lead some to consult his Equality, which is more thorough than the more popular Looking Backward, as he himself intended. The chapters on the Suicide of the Profit System and the Parable of the Water Tank are priceless…1he chapter on What Started the Revolution and its sequel are extraordinary summaries of contemporary history.
“It is encouraging to know that Bellamy Societies are starting almost spontaneously, but also with the aid of a central organization, all over the country…In this country, the problem of industrial socialization is much more of a psychological problem than, it seems to me, it is in any European country. The worth of Bellamy’s books in effecting a translation of the ideas of democracy into economic terms is incalculable. What Uncle Tom’s Cabin was to the anti-slavery movement, Bellamy’s book may well be to the shaping of popular opinion for a new social order…”
In 1947, Dewey was made an Honorary President of the National Education Association. Some of the ideas of Edward Bellamy live on in Dewey’s theories of progressive education promoted in the teachers’ colleges and in many public schools for much of the 20th Century. The other influential spokesman for Edward Bellamy, in American education, was Francis Bellamy. As Chairman of the National Public School Celebration Committee of the NEA, in 1892, Francis Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance for the public school system.
The Life and Ideas of Francis Bellamy
As mentioned in Chapter Three, Francis Bellamy and Edward Bellamy share the Bellamy family tree. Francis’ father, David Bellamy, was 49 years old when Francis was born. He was the eldest of four brothers and decided to go into business as a youth. In 1828, he married Eliza Benedict of Marcellus, New York. The following year he established himself as a merchant in Ellery—a small town in New York. He had been raised a Baptist and even though he had no formal college education, he felt the call to join the Baptist ministry in Ellery.
Reverend David Bellamy founded the Hope Chapel Baptist Church in New York City in 1847. Its name was changed to Calvary Baptist Church. It is now located at 123 West 57th Street across the street from Carnegie Hall. In 1850, Reverend Bellamy left this large church because of poor health.
In 1852, his wife died and, in 1854, he married Lucy Ann Clark Eells, 14 years younger who was raised by her aunt and uncle in Manlius Square, New York. David Bellamy went to work for a Baptist Church in Mount Morris, New York, where Francis was born in 1855. In 1859, he accepted a call to the First Baptist Church in Rome, New York. He died there in 1864. He was for the Union in the Civil War and forecasted its victory on the basis of its superior manpower, manufacturing power, the economic interest of foreign nations, and the spirit of the North.
Francis was raised in Rome by his mother. He attended the schools in Rome, including the new Rome Free Academy. He graduated in 1872 and was the first President of its Alumni Association. In September 1872, he entered the University of Rochester and pursued the regular course in preparation for the Baptist ministry.
In 1876, the year of his graduation, Francis delivered a commencement speech on “The Poetry of Human Brotherhood.” He argued that the French Revolution awakened men to a realization of the personal dignity and God-given rights of man. From the dignity of the individual to the brotherhood of man is the inevitable next step, best expressed in the French Revolutionary watchwords, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.” He felt that politicians, confusing Fraternity with Communism, could not grasp the meaning of universal brotherhood concept expressed by the British romantic poets.
Bellamy entered the Rochester Theological Seminary in the fall of 1876. After graduation in 1880, he began his ministry at the Baptist Church of Little Falls, New York. In 1884, while fighting intemperance in Little Falls, he supported John Pierce St. John, of the National Prohibition Party, against Republican James G. Blaine and Democrat Grover Cleveland. In his church and community, he preached and campaigned for prohibition and its candidate for President.
On June 1, 1881, Francis married Hattie Benton of Newark, New York. She had been raised a Methodist and had completed one year of higher education. His cousin, Edward Bellamy, and Edward’s bride-to-be, attended the wedding. (To the children that would be born to them, Francis would be known as “Uncle Frank”) Francis and Hattie had two sons, both of whom went into business. Marion Bellamy Earnshaw, only daughter of Edward Bellamy, described her “Uncle Frank” as a man of magnificent physique, imposing and magnetic. “He had rugged features to match his body. He was altogether charming and urbane, which qualities did not seem to fit his physical makeup.”
In 1885, Francis left for the Dearborn Street Church in Boston. He had become accustomed to working among factory people in Little Falls and he felt it was his duty to bring moral and spiritual uplift to hard-pressed factory workers and their families. He liked the idea of a church service for the poor, which emphasized charity, philanthropy, education, and spiritual uplift. Labor disturbances were prominent in the news, and Francis wanted to help solve their economic, social, political, and religious problems.
In his work with the poor at the Dearborn Street Church, Francis climbed tenement house stairs. Under his direction, the church grew and was enlarged. The Baptist Social Union of Boston was helping these mission churches, both as an opportunity to help the poor and for expansion of the Baptist faith. Daniel Ford, publisher of The Youth’s Companion, was impressed by the social work of Dearborn Street Church and prompted the Social Union to support the church financially. Francis also continued his temperance work in Boston.
In 1887, prompted by a shift in population, a new church was erected on Urich Street. (A rapid influx of Catholic immigrants had changed the old community and was making it difficult for the church to support itself.) In 1890, the church moved several miles to West Cottage Street and was renamed the Bethany Baptist Church. The new neighborhood was also poor, but was on the edge of an affluent neighborhood. Daniel Ford attended Francis’ church services because he liked his sermons and probably the church’s welfare activities. Ford, who was the editor of The Youth’s Companion and himself an excellent writer, liked a man who expressed himself well. He apparently liked Francis’ sermons on liberty, fraternity, and patriotism and ratified his minister’s negative judgment on the extreme individualism and materialism of the Gilded Age.
As discussed in Chapter Three, Francis Bellamy’s role, in his cousin Edward’s Nationalist movement, took the form of advancing the cause of the Society of Christian Socialists. By the close of 1890, the conservative businessmen, on the Committee on Christian Work of the Baptist Social Union, were increasingly bothered by his socialist activities and sermons and so reduced their appropriations to the Bethany Church.
In a January 1, 1891 letter to the Committee, Francis explained that he sympathized with the workingman. He wrote that Daniel Ford had urged him to show in his preaching how the Bible was full of sympathy with the poor and that the Savior was the poor man’s friend. He stated he had never preached against the rich, even avoiding reading the many biblical statements against them, but admitted that he had condemned covetousness as the most prevalent sin of his day and pointed out that the New Testament condemned this sin at greater length than any other. He explained that he had become a Christian Socialist on the basis of the Scriptures alone. He threatened to resign if funding was not renewed. In April 1891, he did resign and announced his intentions to go to work for his friend and mentor, Daniel Ford.
At this time, Daniel Ford was Francis’ closest friend and career advisor. When Francis had been a minister, they had discussed a new proposed Introductory Department at The Youth’s Companion for devising methods for arousing the interest of the public in the magazine. Ford may have hired Francis also to “shake up” The Companion as his special assistant. He told Bellamy to “consult nobody on the editorial floor; be intimate with nobody; let a certain degree of mystery attach to you among the editors.”
Ford assigned Bellamy to work with James Upham. Upham needed someone to take charge of his National Public School Celebration for Columbus Day. Upham had gone to school in an era when children were trained in patriotism. Children would recite sections of the Declaration of Independence or US Constitution or a part of a speech by Daniel Webster. He hoped that the substitute in the public schools would be the flag. Children would watch the flag being raised at their schools and would develop a little more love for their country.
The nation’s enthusiasm for honoring the American flag in the schools was beginning. The flag’s place had been seen as flying over military bases and on patriotic occasions. Teacher Bernard Cigrand had started the observance of “Flag Day” on June 14, 1885, when he placed a small American flag on his schoolroom desk in Waubeka, Wisconsin. Upham and Bellamy would make saluting the flag and reciting the Pledge a year round observance.
Upham had asked the young readers The Youth’s Companion whether or not they would like to participate in a program to honor patriotism and the public school on Columbus Day. The response was good. He got the nation’s educational newspapers interested in the flag-raising movement. He lined up WT. Harris, commissioner of education, who wanted more patriotism taught in the schools.
The Columbia Exposition was to be located in Chicago in 1892. The Exposition was to have a Youth’s World Congress and the World’s Youth Congress Auxiliary and this group asked The Youth’s Companion to become its official representative. The President of the Youth’s World Congress, A.F. Nightingale, and his associate, Leslie Lewis, Assistant Superintendent of Chicago Schools, had read in The Youth’s Companion of Upham’s idea for a National Public School Celebration for the 1892 Columbus Day. The World Congress Auxiliary gave the management of the Celebration to The Youth’s Companion.
Ford had agreed to back the campaign. Ford asked Bellamy to get the cooperation of educational personnel of the country, newspapers, and government officials. The authority to run the National Public School Celebration for the quadricentennial should emanate from the State Superintendents of Education and an executive committee, appointed by them, should be headed by a Youth’s Companion employee, namely Francis Bellamy.
On February 17, 1892, at the annual meeting of the Superintendents of Education of the National Education Association, WT. Harris strongly supported the National Public School Celebration plan and a series of resolutions were adopted, recommending the project to all superintendents, teachers, and newspapers, with a program of exercises for the occasion written by The Youth’s Companion.
Bellamy was chosen chairman of the National Education Association’s executive committee for the celebration. Its members were J. W. Dickinson, Secretary to the Massachusetts Board of Education; T.B. Stockwell, Commissioner of Rhode Island Public Schools; W.R. Garrett, Superintendent of Public Instruction of Tennessee; and W.C. Hewitt, Superintendent of the Michigan Educational Exhibit at the Chicago World’s Fair. Garrett also was the President of the National Education Association at the time.
Years later Bellamy could make a good argument for the proposition that The Youth’s Companion campaign for the National Public School Celebration in 1892 was the first nationwide advertising and public relations campaign in the United States.
The Youth’s Companion urged its young readers to ask their teachers and schools boards to support the National Public School Celebration, and to set up local committees composed of citizens, teachers, and students. State Superintendents of Education were asked to issue a circular to school superintendents and teachers urging them to support the celebration. The Superintendents of Education Committee was to provide the official program for the celebration, the program actually being written by The Youth’s Companion’s Francis Bellamy.
Francis prepared mass mailings of press releases and circulars. He mailed a stereotype page for the American Press Association to appear in about 4,000 city and village papers. He provided leading local papers with editorials and lead stories on stereotype plate. Associated Press Dispatches were sent out on his speech to the Saratoga Spring’s National Teachers’ Convention of the National Education Association.
The theme was that the public schools were the one characteristic institution that linked all neighborhoods together in the United States and, thus, furnished a common bond for a national celebration. The program was to honor Columbus’ landing in the new world, but, even more, to honor the American public school as the fruit of four centuries of our history and the institution most truly representative of American ideals.
Circulars urged grand Army Posts, to press for local school Observances and to detail escorts of honor to help children raise the flag in the Celebration. Eventually, General John Palmer, Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, endorsed the Celebration. He stated that, “I believe in the influence of the flag over the public school. It is the right place for it, for our national emblem ought to be over schools just as much as over our forts and ships.”
Senators, Congressmen, and other politicians were urged to make statements about the proposed Celebration. Theodore Roosevelt, then a member of the United States Civil Service Commission, stated that, “The Common School and Flag stand together as the archetype of American civilization. The Common School is the leading form in which the principles of equality and fraternity take shape, while the Flag represents not only those principles of equality, fraternity, and liberty, but also the great pulsing nation with all its hopes, and all its past, and all its moral power. So it is eminently fitting that the Common School and the Flag should stand together on Columbus Day.”
Grover Cleveland, who had been President and was about to run again, came out for the Celebration. He was concerned about the problem of Americanizing the foreign youth in the public schools. With the help of Republican Representative Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, he lined up President Harrison and Congress to support the Celebration. President Harrison was concerned about the lack of enthusiasm, in many places, for financing the public school, sometimes accused of being socialistic.
President Harrison’s Proclamation of July 21, 1892, enjoined the people to honor Columbus Day on “the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America on the 21st of October, 1892 by public demonstrations and by suitable exercises in their schools and other places of assembly.
“Columbus stood, in his age, as the pioneer of progress and enlightenment. The system of universal education is, in our age, the most prominent and salutary feature of the spirit of enlightenment, and it is peculiarly appropriate that the schools be made, by the people, the center of the day’s demonstration. Let the National Flag float over every school house in the country, and the exercises of such as shall impress upon our youth the patriotic duties of American citizenship.”
Upham, in the meantime, was encouraging his youthful readers in The Youth’s Companion and members of the Lyceum League of America to buy flags for their schoolhouses for the National Public School Celebration. He argued that there were still many schools without flags and that the flag was necessary to stir up the love of country in youngsters, especially the foreign born.
Upham and Bellamy worked closely in putting together the program for the Celebration. They both believed it should not be just an ordinary list of exercises but a ritual.
Bellamy was given the job of actually writing up the program. The program was in eight parts:
1. Reading of the President’s Proclamation by the Master of Ceremonies.
2. Raising of the Flag by the Veterans
3. Salute to the Flag by the Pupils
4. Acknowledgment of God, Prayer or Scripture
5. Song of Columbus Day by Pupils and Audience
6. Address, “The Meaning of the Four Centuries.”
7. The Ode, “Columbia’s Banner.”
8. Addresses by Citizens and National Songs.
Bellamy wrote “The Address for Columbus Day, The Meaning of Four Centuries,” and its flag salute, the Pledge of Allegiance. The nub of the program was the raising of the Flag, with a verbal Salute to the Flag recited by the pupils in unison.
In the Address, he began by stating that the people were gathering around the school house to honor the great American institution which united the nation, the public schools. “We assemble here that we, too, may exalt the free school that embodies the American principle of universal enlightenment and equality; the most characteristic product of our four centuries of American life.”
He goes on to say, possibly copying from Edward Bellamy, that:
“We look backward and we look forward. Backward, we see the first mustering of modern ideas…We hear the axe, we see the flame of burning cabins, and hear the cry of the savage. We see the never ceasing wagon trains always tolling westward…We note the birth of the modern system of industry and commerce, and its striking forth into undreamed-of-wealth…Through it all, we fasten on certain principles, ever operating and regnant—the leadership of manhood; equal rights for every soul; universal enlightenments the sources of progress…
“We look forward. We are conscious we are in a period of transition. Ideas in education, in political economy, in social science are undergoing revisions…. The coming century promises to be more than ever the age of the people; an age that shall develop a greater care for the rights of the weak, and make a more solid provision for the development of each individual by the education that meets his need.”
He ended his speech with praise of the public school and a polite jab at the parochial schools:
“One institution, more than any other, has wrought out the achievements of the past, and is today the most trusted for the future. Our fathers, in their wisdom, knew that the foundations of liberty, fraternity, and equality must be universal education. The free school, therefore, was conceived as the cornerstone of the Republic. Washington and Jefferson recognized that the education of citizens is not the prerogative of church or of other private interest; that, while religious training belongs to the church, and while technical and higher culture may be given by private institutions, the training of citizens in the common knowledge and the common duties of citizenship belongs irrevocably to the State.
“We, therefore, on the anniversary of America, present the Public School as the noblest expression of the principle of enlightenment which Columbus grasped by faith. We uplift the system of free and universal education as the master force that, under God, has been informing each of our generations with the peculiar truths of Americanism. America, therefore, gathers her sons around the schoolhouse, today, as the institution closest to the people, most characteristic of the people, and fullest of hope for the people…
“We, the youth of America, who, today, unite to march as one army under the sacred flag, understand our duty. We pledge ourselves that the flag shall not be stained; and that America shall mean equal opportunity and justice for every citizen, and brotherhood for the world.”
Of all the parts of the program that Upham took most seriously, it was the Salute to the Flag. He tried writing many variations of a salute and asked for comments from The Companion staff. He was never satisfied with the salutes he wrote and eventually asked Bellamy to write the Pledge.
The only well known American Flag Salute, at the time, was Colonel Balch’s salute, written in 1889, which Balch had first used on Flag Day, June 14th, in his free kindergarten for New York City’s poor and immigrants, where he served as a principal. Apparently, he soon extended it to a daily salute in the classroom for all his students. His Salute went as follows: “We give our heads and our hearts to God and our country; one country, one language, one Flag.”
Both Upham and Bellamy agreed that the new words for a salute should be more than just a Salute; it should be a vow of allegiance. A pledging of allegiance would be much more than a “Salute to the Flag” and hopefully would replace Balch’s simple salute. The word, “allegiance,” had, for most people of this time, a Civil War familiarity from the use of “oath of allegiance” by the Union in the Civil War, and afterwards during reconstruction in the South.
As the program was near ready for publication in mid-August, Upham did not have a Salute ready that was worthy of being the center of the school program. He asked Bellamy to write it for him. They both agreed that the general notion of a flag salute would be subordinate to a vow of loyalty, or allegiance to the flag. “Allegiance” was a word pleasing to both of them because of its Civil War associations.
Bellamy, perhaps, thought that “pledge” was a better word than “oath” or “vow” because of his associations with the “temperance pledge” of his prohibition campaigns. Moreover, the words “Oath of Allegiance” would raise uncomfortable memories for citizens of the former Confederate States. The Catholic Church also argued that only a State or Church could administer an oath—one of its many disagreements with the Masons.
During and after the Civil War, many southerners were required to take an “Oath of Allegiance” to the Union before they were given their political rights. The “Oath of Allegiance” for southerners, recommended by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, was as follows: “I,_________, do solemnly swear, in the presence of Almighty God, that I will, henceforth, faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all acts of Congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves…”
More stringent oaths were administered during the reconstruction period. The “iron-clad” oath went as follows:
“I,______, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I have never voluntarily borne arms against the United States since I have been a citizen thereof; that I have voluntarily given no aid, countenance, counsel, or encouragement to persons engaged in armed hostility, thereto…” This eliminated former confederates and southern sympathizers from government office or even jury duty.
This was to be a vow of loyalty for what the flag represented. The “Republic” founded after the American Revolution. A nation without a king did not necessarily imply a democracy.
The high cost of the Civil War suggested three words: “one nation, indivisible.” The word, “liberty,” may have been suggested by the then unofficial national anthem for children, “America,” that the children sang in the program. Its first verse starts as follows, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing…” However, there probably were more important reasons why he put the word into the Pledge.
What were the basic national doctrines or ideals that the nation stood for? Bellamy was tempted to use the slogan of the French Revolution and his cousin’s Nationalism movement: “liberty, fraternity, equality.” But “fraternity” was not soon to be realized or agreed on and the word “equality” would be unacceptable to the State Superintendents of Education in a society that denied the vote and most civil rights to blacks and women.
The words, “liberty” and “justice,” that he used are in the Preamble to the Constitution. Among the purposes in establishing the Constitution were a desire to “establish justice” and to “secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” The words, “liberty” and “equal protection of the laws,” are in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. The 14th Amendment says, “…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Under the auspices of [aissez fizz’re economic thought, the term meant primarily freedom of contract and governmental protection of personal rights. Liberty and property and contractual rights were popular with the business community. The liberty of poor individuals to enter into contracts, however disadvantageous, without state regulation or interference was approved of by the courts and by the business community.
On the occasion of the Constitution’s Centennial in 1887, a favorite theme was the close association of “liberty” and “law and order” which were closely associated with the protection of property rights. In the 1880s, essayists emphasized that the Anglo–Saxon peoples had demonstrated, above all other racial groups, the ability to combine liberty and order. Labor strikes were considered a sign of “foreigners” and anarchists. Many Americans and especially the business community liked the theme of liberty and law and order.
The concept of equality did not appear in American constitutional law until adoption of the 14th Amendment by the states, in 1868, and Americans showed scant interest in enforcing the spirit of liberty and equality until well after World War II. The word “equality,” had been in the Declaration of Independence and in Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, which identified the United States as a nation “conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
Thus, “liberty and justice” were not controversial or debatable and plenty for one nation to try to accomplish. Bellamy felt that if “for all” was added, these last two words implied the spirit of equality and fraternity—two words he did not dare include because the pledge had to be approved by the NEA’s Executive Committee of Superintendents of Education. The NEA did not integrate African-American and white membership until 1966 and only in the late 1960s did the NEA begin to support aggressively the concept of “equality” in most state educational systems.
When Bellamy had finished writing the Pledge in August, 1892, he showed it to Upham, who liked it, and suggested a salute that was used by many states up until World War II. As Upham pretended to salute the flag, he came to attention, snapped his heels together to begin reciting the Pledge. As he started to recite, “I pledge allegiance to my flag,” he stretched out his right arm and hand with palm up and kept it raised while he recited the rest of the Pledge, “and to the Republic, for which it stands; one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Both Mr. Ford and the Executive Committee of the Superintendents of Education approved the Pledge as written. It first appeared in the Official Program for the National Public School Celebration in the September 8th issue of The Companion. Bellamy wanted to sign his name to it but Ford insisted on The Companion’s policy of anonymity.
The Pledge was apparently first used in New York City. The New Yorkers, including many immigrants, had a three-day celebration revolving around October 12. On the first day, 35,000 school children marched by the reviewing stand on Fifth Avenue while half a million people watched the parade.
What was a one-day celebration in most places was a three-day Columbus celebration in New York City. The second day one million turned out along the Hudson River to watch a naval pageant of ships from Europe and South America to illustrate the progress in sailing from the days of Columbus’ small caravels to the large ocean liners of the late 19th Century. The third day drew two million people into Central Park. The people of the ethnic neighborhoods and the tenements had come to honor Columbus, not the public schools.
In 1892, New York’s foreign born were the city’s poorest. Many of them did not know the name of the President or New York’s Governor or even the names of Washington or Lincoln, but the name of Columbus, they recognized. They embraced Columbus, who had opened the new world of America and the United States, their land of opportunity. The Italians and Hispanics, especially, were proud of Columbus but often had little identification with the Public Schools.
The other schools celebrated on October 21, the “true” date of Columbus discovering American, when one takes into consideration the changes in the calendar over the centuries.
Bellamy, apparently, first heard the Pledge recited by the students in Boston on the morning of October 21. It probably followed the program’s recommended procedure:
“At a signal from the Principal, the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the Flag the military salute—right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly: ‘I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one Nation, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.’ At the words, ‘to my Flag,’ the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, towards the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side. Then, still standing, as the instruments strike a chord, all will sing ‘America, My County ’tis of Thee.’”
Bellamy officially celebrated the Public School Celebration in Malden, Mass., the home of Upham. On the afternoon following the exercises at the schools, a parade of 4,000 school children took place. The Malden News described the children as follows: “As they came up Main Street with perfect rank and file, heads erect, shoulders back, and eyes front, they presented a sight that even old veterans respected and showed approval by cheers and hand clapping.” Bellamy, Upham, and the local notables were 0n the reviewing stand in front of the Malden Center Methodist Episcopal Church.
In an evening program, Upham presented School Board Chairman, the Rev. W.P. Whitcher, a gavel used by George Washington. Mayor James Pierce welcomed “Deacon James B. Upham, the author and director of this national celebration.” Bellamy gave the evening address.
Over half of the 120,000 public schools in the country participated in the National Public School Celebration. Bellamy had several more months of glory with the aftermath of this Celebration.
While working for The Youth’s Companion, the Bellamy family lived in a house on Griffin Avenue in Newton Highlands, then and now part of Newton—a western suburb of Boston. His wife, Harriet Benton Bellamy, owned the house. She had a flair for writing and collaborated with Francis on several magazine articles. She was not as enthusiastic for the socialist movement as Francis was, but she did respect the reform movement. Her inheritance from her father, John Wesley Benton, at his death in 1900, enabled Francis to visit Europe in 1901. On this trip, he decided to switch into the new business journalism, which was developing higher literary standards.
At The Companion, Bellamy went on the lecture trail before miscellaneous groups and, especially, the clubs of the Lyceum League of America, founded by Upham in October 1891, and sponsored by The Youth’s Companion. His themes were: “The Spirit of Americanism – Perils from Immigration – Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity in Relation to the New American Idea.”
Francis’ speech was a modified version of the Edward Bellamy and Christian Socialist themes, which would indicate that Upham and Ford approved of most of these themes. His major theme was what was meant by “Americanism.” Francis’ “Americanism” was not the spirit that looked to commercial gain.
Francis argued that America had been supporting liberty more than equality or fraternity. The business community had run the concept of “liberty” into the ground. “Liberty” had come to mean the right of great corporations to oppress the people; for fraudulent stock sales; for electric wires to be haphazardly hung along railroad tracks; liberty for the Adam Smith economic atoms on the top of the heap to oppress the atoms on the bottom of the heap of society.
Bellamy’s “Americanism” included the spirit of “fraternity” and “equality.” “Fraternity” was the recognition that society was not a loose collection of atom-like economic individuals but an extended family. “Equality” meant equal rights to an education on the part of the poor children as much as for the rich children. It included the right of an individual to work and earn a decent living for his family.
After completing his work for Upham’s National Public School Celebration and helping with Upham’s Lyceum League, Bellamy was assigned a job to secure leading writers as contributors, reading manuscripts, and editing. Mr. Ford was now in poor health and usually not in his office and took much less interest in Bellamy’s career. Bellamy was not getting interesting assignments and many of the other editors were jealous of him because Bellamy had been brought into the company at a higher position than most of them.
In 1895, Bellamy left The Companion for Edward Bok’s Ladies Home journal, as a chief manuscript reader. He became bored with this job and after four months, left to join The Illustrated American, as Editor and Manager. This magazine covered current national affairs and gave Bellamy an opportunity to write editorials and articles on national affairs.
In 1896, he attacked William Jennings Bryan as a demagogue and as the first Presidential candidate who had tried to excite class against class and the masses against the upper class. He was threatening to raise the red flag of armed revolt. Part of the charm of Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward for the American public was that the change from capitalism to socialism was described as gradual and peaceful, without any bitter class warfare or revolution.
Like his cousin, Edward, Francis revealed his biases against the southern Europeans in his editorials. He attacked open immigration. In an August 28, 1897 editorial, he said the following:
“The hard inescapable fact is that men are not born equal. Neither are they born free, but all in bonds to their ancestors and their environments…
“The success of government, by the people, will depend upon the stuff that people are made of. The people must realize their responsibility to themselves. They must guard, more jealously even than their liberties, the quality of their blood.
“A democracy like ours cannot afford to throw itself open to the world. Where every man is a lawmaker, every dull-witted or fanatical immigrant admitted to our citizenship is a bane to the commonwealth. Where all classes of society merge insensibly into one another, every alien immigrant of inferior race may bring corruption to the stock.
“There are races, more or less akin to our own, whom we may admit freely, and get nothing but advantage from the infusion of their wholesome blood. But there are other races, which we cannot assimilate without a lowering of our racial standard, which should be as sacred to us as the sanctity of our homes.”
In praise of the sport of football and his Northern European ancestry, in a November 13, 1897 editorial, he states:
“The stuff in our Anglo–Saxon blood, which supplies the sure foundation of football’s popularity, also supplies the stamina and wholesome aggressiveness of our race. The sane impulse of conflict that is in us needs some recognition. Football meets that unforgotten need of the race, which, in the days of chivalry, had to be satisfied by the tourney and the joust.
“There is no quality that a nation can less afford to lose than its aggressive manliness. It is a quality amalgamate of courage, endurance, restraint, and the power to act surely and unfalteringly in an emergency. It is a quality, which football tends to foster and to keep alive…”
His views on the blacks apparently were ambivalent. In a January 15, 1898 editorial, he said:
“We are witnessing the beginning of a new campaign in the long war of races in the South. It is the beginning of a battle for independence for one race, and the loss of political rights for another. The white man is in the saddle for the overthrow of negro dominion…
“The leaders of the negroes have been unendurable, more than the negro voters themselves… So, white Republicans make common cause with Democrats for the disfranchisement of the negro…
“When the Southerner finds a method for accomplishing his purpose, he does not stop. Will he be able to intimidate the whole race of black men while he takes quick action to deprive them of their political rights? Will they make no protest, raise no mob revolt, enter into no fellowship of terrible revenge against the race, which would, thus, sweep their rights aside?”
In a May 22, 1897 editorial, he mentions, in passing, his View of the Mexican labor force:
“Cheap peon labor in Mexico is of a shiftless and unreliable kind. The native Mexican works only that he may live. If he can live for a month on the rewards of a week’s work, he will work for 12 weeks out of the year and not a week more.”
He praised the expansion of American trade overseas and the need for a larger US Navy. In a March 5, 1898 editorial, he blamed Congress for what he thought was a American military weakness at the beginning of the Spanish–American War. Like many Americans, he feared that part of the Spanish fleet would bombard some of the unprotected eastern American ports, while the American fleet was involved in the invasion of Cuba:
“You (Congress) have had the sole power to build an adequate navy and to fortify our coasts. You have had year by year the military estimates of the navy and war departments placed before you…The press has been incessant in its appeals to you for the action of commonest prudence, and wise, patriotic men, of your own number, have worried you in season and out of season…You have sneered at the military appropriations asked for and cut to a third those proposed by your own committees… You have seen, for years, the gathering storm of European enmity. You knew that our only safety was in our ability to repel attack…
Bellamy raised The Illustrated American from operating at a loss to a profitable operation. In 1898, the magazine was sold by the owner and he left it for the book publishing house of Silver, Burdett 8c Co., as editor. While there, he had published his cousin Edward’s book, The Duke of Stockbridge. Edward had written this book, in 1879, but decided on its publication only shortly before his death in 1898. His widow agreed to let Francis edit it and he also wrote the introduction to the book.
When Edward wrote this romance, he chose the episode of the revolt of the debtor–farmers, in 1786, against the harsh creditors and oppressive government in western Massachusetts, near the present resort Town of Stockbridge, Mass. In this century, the town was the location of much of Norman Rockwell’s work and is the present location of the art museum dedicated to his work.
But back in 1786, it was the center of radicalism and the location for “Shays’ Rebellion” This revolt helped scare the leaders of the 13 colonies into supporting a strong central government seen in the US Constitution in 1788. Edward’s book is sometimes designated as the most authoritative piece of fiction written about this Rebellion.
The hero, Captain Daniel Shays, an ex-Revolutionary War officer, and the majority of men, in his rebel ranks, were soldiers, who were nearly all impoverished through their Revolution War services and were considered never-do-wells by the governing classes of merchants and lawyers.
The Massachusetts taxes were so heavy that the annual tax, per farmer or mechanic, was more money than the average farmer or mechanic made in over a year. A profitable business for the local lawyers was the foreclosing on the farmers’ or mechanics’ property and filling the jails with those who could not pay their debts. The exasperated Revolutionary War veterans emptied the jails of their friends and neighbors and demanded financial relief. The Rebellion was put down by the Massachusetts government with only a small loss of life but it scared the ruling classes in the state.
In 1901, Bellamy left the publisher and for about a year was a freelance writer for the New Kirk Sun newspaper, reporting on leading church leaders and their sermons. He took a vacation in Europe. He then spent three years working and writing for the Equitable Life Assurance Society, where he learned more about salesmanship and advertising.
In 1904, he began his 11 years with Everybody’s Magazine, as an advertising manager. This magazine is sometimes classified as one of the notable “muckraking,” reform-minded magazines along with McClure’s at the beginning of this century. Noted radical reformer, Lincoln Stelfens, joined its editorial board in 1910. The magazine was noted for fearlessly attacking corruption on Wall Street and other financial centers.
Its owner was John Adams Thayer, who believed in reforming the outrageous advertising practices of his time. Advertising, back then, usually included fraudulent patent medicine ads, which he rejected, along with other knowingly fraudulent ads.
Bellamy’s work with the magazine included the soliciting of national advertisers, cooperating with their advertising agencies, and writing a series of articles about the advertising and product policies of many of the magazine’s large advertisers. He solicited reactions from the readers to these ads and wrote a book based on these findings, Effective Magazine Advertising, which had a vogue among the national advertisers and advertising agencies as one of the first guides in the scientific construction of advertisements and advertising research.
Bellamy apparently wrote no “muckraking” articles for the magazine except for a 1904 article on, “Is America Developing an Aristocracy?” He did criticize John D. Rockefeller, in his Commencement address to the graduating class at the University of Rochester in 1906. In his address, “An Advancing Conscience,” he first criticized political graft and then criticized Rockefeller for using questionable business practices in developing his giant oil trust.
He said that Rockefeller, like many businessmen, had a good set of principles in most areas of life, but a wholly contradictory set of principles in business. The word, “hypocrite,” was not adequate to explain such a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde case as Mr. Rockefeller. The public was demanding a more advanced form of moral conscience.
The average businessman could see his small scale evasions, injustices, briberies, blackmailing, falsehoods, and breaking of fiduciary obligations projected on the large scale in the case of Mr. Rockefeller. The average businessman was beginning to question the long accepted principals of business practices common in America.
The public was disgusted with the moral standards of the big businessmen. The business idols were collapsing. The public had seen trusted financial institutions shaken and tottering be cause the great financiers disregarded their fiduciary obligations. The haughtiest of the American financiers had run away from a subpoena like a petty thief. Corporate directors were guilty of tricks, falsifications, and criminal manipulations with their stockholders’ money. Railroad barons were in disgrace because they had both given and accepted bribes.
The businessmen needed a moral revolution. In a new moral business code, justice should have a place. Truth telling would be a necessity. Graft and bribery would be avoided like larceny. At the end of his speech, Bellamy stated that he thought a new business conscience was evolving already.
In 1915, he joined Erickson Advertising, a leading New York advertising agency. There, he was an account executive and copywriter. He solicited accounts and handled the advertising of such large firms as Westinghouse and Allied Chemical. He resigned in 1921 to go into semi-retirement.
Including his years at Everybody’s Magazine, Bellamy had spent 19 years in advertising in New York City. He had played a part in the development of the advertising industry from its infancy to a fabulous world of signboards, neon lights, double-page color ads, and the beginnings of radio commercials. The “Madison Avenue” advertising world had arrived in New York City with his blessing and help.
Bellamy believed in high-pressure advertising, but believed it still could be truthful advertising. He believed that advertising should create the demand for the increasing output of American industry. He saw selling as very important to business and saw advertising copy as his specialty. In many ways, the advertising industry could argue that the Pledge of Allegiance is the greatest piece of copy writing seen in the United States in the last 100 years.
In 1922, he decided to leave New York City to spend the remainder of his life in Tampa, Florida with his second wife. His first wife, Harriet Bellamy, had died in1918. In 1920, he had married Mrs. Marie Morin, who had been a successful businesswoman in the women’s hat business in New York City.
His sons, David and John, by this time, were well established in the business world. David had served in the US Marine Corp, during World War I in France and had won a medal for bravery but had not been wounded.
As to some clues to his politics at the end of his life, Francis, in 1928, was disappointed in his sons for voting for Herbert Hoover instead of Al Smith, the Democratic candidate for President. He considered Smith a more forceful and wiser man than Hoover. Smith had fought corruption and the Political Machine in New York City, while Hoover, as US Secretary of Commerce, had condoned the oil and other scandals, during the Coolidge and Harding administrations. Francis also supported Smith because Smith wanted to repeal the Prohibition Amendment against alcohol, while Hoover wished to continue this “Noble Experiment.” Francis obviously was no longer a prohibitionist as he had been in the 19th Century.
In 1926, he began working part time as the advertising manager for the Tampa Electric Company, after he convinced the management that the company needed systematic publicity and advertising that he could develop. On July 15, 1931, he was fired from this part-time job at the Tampa Electric Company and, on the same day, he applied for and received a similar job with the Tampa Gas Company. He died on August 28, 1931, in Tampa, Florida, at the age of 76.
Adopting and Changing the Pledge
The original Pledge to the Flag was published by The Youth’s Companion as follows: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands: one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” Within the year, “to” was added, so the Pledge read: “to the Republic.”
The first organization to promote the Pledge was The Youth’s Companion. As mentioned in Chapter Two, James Upham continued his campaign in the pages of The Companion to put the flag over every schoolhouse. The flag was offered as a premium or for sale. Literature on handling the flag and reciting the Pledge was available.
The magazine also would mail free, to any interested parties, copies of a brochure giving the wording for a recommended compulsory School Flag Law for a State. This model Flag Law instructed the school boards in a state to procure for each school building, at the expense of the town or district, a bunting flag, flag pole, and the appliances for raising the flag. Each school board was to prescribe the regulations for the proper custody and display of the flag. James Upham’s Lyceum League of America was the first group to recite the Pledge as part of their meeting ritual. The Lyceum League had promoted the National Public School Celebration Day and the use of the flag and, possibly, the use of the Pledge in public school patriotic ritual. The National Education Association originally approved the flag salute and the Pledge in the National Public School Celebration Day in 1892, but when it officially recommended the daily use of the Pledge in the classroom is unknown.
The first adult organization to recommend the use of the Pledge by public schools and to incorporate its use into its own adult patriotic program was the Women’s Relief Corps, Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic. The GAR, in 1890, had 400,000 members. This women’s group had been founded to work closely with the local GAR Chapters and to help the disabled Union Civil War veterans.
At its 12th Convention in Pittsburgh in 1894, the Women’s Relief Corps recommended that a salute to the flag be used in the public schools, mentioning by name the “Balch Salute” and “The Youth’s Companion Salute,” also described as the “Bellamy’s Salute.” In 1895, the Corps incorporated Bellamy’s Flag Salute into its own patriotic ritual.
The first local government passing a flag salute law is unknown. In 1897, the president of the Southern California Sons of the American Revolution, who also was a member of a local board of education, secured a regulation that all pupils be required to salute the flag, while any teacher or principal, not enforcing the rule, should be deemed disloyal and should be dismissed. A recalcitrant child could be readmitted only after his parents had given a written pledge of obedience.
The first state flag salute statute was passed by the New York State Legislature in 1898 on the day war was declared with Spain. It required the state superintendent of public education to prepare a program, providing for a salute to the flag at the opening of each school day and at patriotic exercises. Similar statutes were passed by Rhode Island in 1901, Arizona in 1903, and Kansas in 1907. These laws did not require the local school authorities to use a flag salute nor did they mention the Pledge by name. By the end of World War I and into the 1920s, some state laws began requiring the Pledge to be recited in public schools and setting penalties for failure to do so.
The credit, for the first movement to make the Pledge part of the nation’s flag etiquette, may belong to the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) founded in 1889 and the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) founded in 1890.
In 1898, the Sons of the American Revolution took leadership in setting up the American Flag Association, a union of the flag committees of the patriotic societies in the United States and other interested individuals. These societies were proud of the role of their ancestors in securing American independence and some, like the Daughters of the American Revolution, had perpetuating the spirit of true Americanism as a leading objective. In 1939, the SAR convinced Congress to make the Pledge part of the nation’s flag ceremony etiquette. The Flag Code was adopted by a joint resolution of Congress in June 1942.
The first changes, in the wording of the Pledge of Allegiance, took place under the leadership of the American Legion. In 1921 the Legion asked that in the Pledge the words, “my Flag,” be changed to “the Flag of the United States of America.” The American Legion called for a National Flag Conference to be held in he DAR’s Memorial Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, on Flag Day, June 14, 1923. About 80 delegates, from patriotic societies, fraternal orders, civic bodies, and other organizations adopted a Flag Code based on the War Department’s Flag Circular.
The Conference adopted a Flag Code in which the Conference urged states to adopt as laws the Flag Codes. These Codes recommended that the observation of Flag Day and the display of the Flag at main administration buildings of each public institution, including schools, and the adoption of elaborate rules for the proper manner of displaying the Flag.
Gridley Adams, Director General of the United States Flag Association, also recommended that the words in the Pledge, “my flag,” be changed to “the flag of the United States.” The Flag Code, thus, included the new wording for the Pledge: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” The words “of the United States,” were substituted for “my flag” because many at the Conference believed that the immigrant children might mistake “my flag” for the flag of their homeland. The children should clearly know they were saluting the flag of their new country and not their former country. The next year, 1924, the National Flag Conference added two additional words “of America” in “of the United States of America” for the same reason.
Francis Bellamy did not like the two Flag Conferences’ changes in the Pledge, but he had little power to stop them. The Youth’s Companion claimed the Pledge had been written by an editorial team, under the leadership of James Upham, not by Francis Bellamy. The Youth’s Companion apparently did not object to the new wording of the Pledge and continued its pride of authorship.
Bellamy was proud of his Pledge and hoped to see its use by the public expand even further. In fact, his recommendations and forecast for the use of the Pledge by the American public was amazingly accurate.
In October 1923, while he and his wife were wrapping up their affairs in New York City, before their departure for retirement in Tampa, Florida, he wrote a promotion plan for the Pledge which he entitled, “A New Plan for Counter-Attack on the Nation’s Internal Foes,” or “How to Mobilize the Masses to Support Primary American Doctrines.” This document was unpublished but it does reflect his insight into the significance the Pledge eventually would have for the American people.
In this document, Bellamy states that “the roaring 20’s” were blotting out the patriotic ardor of World War 1. He expressed concern with the radicalism rampant in the world after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and a related “red scare” in the United States and also with labor protests and farmer unrest.
He thought the Pledge could have a role in reversing this trend. By 1923, the Pledge had been adopted by most public school systems. He realized that young school children had little sense of what the Pledge meant when they recited it, but he compared this ritual to a child’s recitation of the Lord’s Prayer or the Ten Commandments. A child cannot comprehend those ideas but the words instill, by repetition, a religious feeling that later in life becomes a conscious adult belief.
He thought the American educators were wise in introducing the Pledge as a ritual; because of the overwhelming effect such repetition has on the child’s early impressions. He felt that reciting the Pledge was more thrilling than a religious ritual because they were able to yell it out.
Bellamy thought the public schools could make more extensive use of the Pledge in patriotic education for the older children. Its meaning could be discussed in the classroom and in the textbooks. In particular, he thought that the notions of a great “Republic” and of “liberty and justice for all” could be explained in much greater detail if teachers were trained to do so.
Many Americans saw, in communism, socialism, and the concept of equality for all races and sexes, a threat of subversion. School children might read radical books, watch communist movies, or hear undesirable doctrines from their teachers. The American Legion, the National Education Association, and other organizations were militant in demanding that only “Americanism” be taught in the public schools. Ironically, this effort often meant that the economic theories of Edward Bellamy and Francis Bellamy were not permitted in the classroom.
Bellamy recommended a more extensive use of the Pledge by the American public; he suggested the creation of a Press Bureau to promote the Pledge. The Bureau could be self-supporting from the sale of patriotic products, such as patriotic films, booklets, and holiday cards. For instance, every schoolroom would need a poster with a stirring picture and the Pledge in Bellamy’s original handwriting!
He recommended a national propaganda campaign squarely based on the Pledge. The Press Bureau could promote the Pledge with graphic applications of the wrong notions held by many disgruntled employees and farmers. Newspapers and posters could carry the Pledge to the masses and explain its meaning in order to counteract what he thought were the ideas of subversive radicals.
Bellamy saw his plan as a plan to educate the masses in the fundamentals of “Nationalism.” By now, this “Nationalism” was not the ideal socialist state of his cousin, Edward Bellamy, but rather a strong love of the nation of the United States of America. He probably had given up his old socialist dream of a nationalized economy by this point in his life.
He foresaw the adoption of the Pledge into the exercises of the fraternal and patriotic orders. He knew that the Elks had incorporated the Pledge into their exercises and that the Masons soon would do likewise. He especially hoped the American Legion would promote the Pledge in the adult community. He thought the Pledge would supply the American Legion with a creed that would guarantee the Legion’s future patriotism. He also hoped that the Legion would adopt the Pledge as part of its own patriotic ritual, but it did not do so until 1950.
Bellamy hoped that the President and other high personages in the government would warmly support the Pledge. At least by 1988, both the President and Congress had strongly endorsed the Pledge, Congress reciting it at the beginning of each session and asking that its bicentennial be celebrated in 1992. He saw the Pledge as a creed of unquestionable Americanism which would become the National Creed to be heard in both public and private schools, university assemblages, fraternal orders, patriotic orders, community gatherings, rallies, and in churches.
Only his forecast, for the role of the Pledge in church services, seems not to have come true. He had seen that most of the churches were commonly displaying the flag in the church sanctuary during World War I, and he hoped that the Pledge ritual would be incorporated into some church services. He thought it could become the subject of patriotic sermons because of its emphasis on the indivisibility of human interests, the doctrines of liberty and justice, and its theme of loyalty.
By the end of World War I, some states and a few municipalities were beginning to make recitation of the Pledge compulsory in public schools. A Maryland law, drafted in 1918, required all teachers and students to say the Pledge unless they specifically objected. The law was amended in 1971 by the state’s Court of Appeals, adding a provision that allowed objectors the right to refrain from its recitation.
One of the leaders in the compulsory flag salute movement was the American Legion. In 1919, after four American Legionnaires were killed in Centralia, Washington, when a parade outside the radical Industrial Workers of the World hall erupted into violence, the state legislature quickly passed a mandatory flag salute statute. Several other states soon passed laws that required teachers to lead students in the Pledge.
The United States Navy, Army, and Coast Guard had explicit regulations as to the display and honor to be rendered the flag. They did not include the Pledge. Not until June 22, 1942, were the rules and customs relating to the civilian use of the flag codified. In a joint resolution of Congress that enacted the Flag Code, the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag was included but not made compulsory. The requirement of many states that all public school children recite the Pledge was not declared unconstitutional until the following year in the West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnette case.
The Preamble of the Legion’s Constitution, passed at the Minneapolis Convention in 1919, states:
“For God and country, we associate ourselves together for the following purposes: to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America; to maintain law and order; to foster and perpetuate 100 percent Americanism…”
To implement this objective, it authorized in 1919 and set up in 1924 its National Americanism Commission to establish educational programs to:
(1) Combat all anti-American tendencies, activities, and propaganda
(2) Work for the education of immigrants in the principles of Americanism
(3) Inculcate the ideals of Americanism in the citizen population
(4) Give information as to the real nature and principles of American government
(5) Foster the teaching of Americanism in all schools
The Legion defined “Americanism” as “nationalism and patriotism.” The Legion’s concept of Americanism and patriotism was influenced by its fear of some foreign elements in America and especially of the radical ideologies of the communists, the Wobblies, and other revolutionaries who advocated the overthrow of constitutional government by force.
The National Americanism program of the Legion was divided into three main activities—Education, Youth Activities, and Community Service. Included under its education activities were flag education, cooperation with parent–teacher associations, and the American Education Week in cooperation with the National Education Association. The Legion and its Commission worked on both the local and national level with the National Education Association to promote “Americanism education,” an effort to keep subversive teachers or non-American ideas out of the classroom and textbooks.
This effort of the Legion and the NEA to keep “un-American ideas” out of public education is possibly a major reason why Francis Bellamy’s ideas have not been discussed in schools over the last century. His Socialist and reform theories would probably have been considered “too radical” for school children. Also the Library of Congress did not confirm his claim to the authorship of the Pledge until 1939, by the United States Flag Association and in 1957.
Besides recommending that every elementary and high school in the United States open the school day with a salute to the flag, the Legion also recommended a flag education course. One flag education course, suggested by the Commission in 1935, was an 18-hour course in patriotism, flag history, and flag etiquette.
By World War II, most states had compulsory Pledge flag salutes for the public schools. In 1943, the Supreme Court in West Virginia Board of Education vs. Barnette ruled that students could not be compelled to recite the Pledge. The question of whether or not public school teachers, as a condition of employment, can be required to lead their class in reciting the Pledge is yet to be decided.
When the students in parochial schools began to recite the Pledge is unknown, but it may have started in the 1920’s. Many Irish parish schools had adopted the practice of having the flag in front of the school by the turn of the century, but many other parish schools balked at the expense of a flagpole and a flag in front of the school, let alone the cost of a flag in every classroom.
A very serious attempt to divest parents of their right to send their children to Catholic schools grew out of a May 1920 resolution of the Supreme Council of Masons of the Scottish Rite for the southern jurisdiction of the United States. This Masonic group passed a resolution advocating a law declaring that the compulsory education requirement for the nation’s children could take place only in public schools. The Mason’s Imperial Council of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine and the Grand Lodge of Oregon also passed similar resolutions.
A campaign, under the direction of the Scottish Rite Masons of Oregon, obtained enough signatures to place on the ballot, for the general election in November 1922, an initiative measure to compel children, between the ages of 8 and 16, to attend the public schools.
The Masonic argument was based on the follow propositions:
(1) “Our nation supports the public school for the sole purpose of self-preservation.”
(2) “The assimilation and education of our foreign-born citizens in the principles of our government, the hope and inspiration of our people, are best secured by and through attendance of all children in our public schools.”
(3) “We must now halt those coming to our country from forming groups, establishing schools, and thereby, bringing up their children in an environment often antagonistic to the principles of our government.”
(4) “Mix the children of the foreign-born with the native-born, and the rich with the poor…bring out the finished product—a true American.”
(5) “The permanency of this nation rests in the education of its youth in our public schools, where they will be correctly instructed…”
(6) “When every parent in our land has a child in our public schools, then, and only then, will there be united interest in the growth and higher efficiency of our public schools.”
(7) “Our children must not, under any pretext, be it based upon money, creed, or social status, be divided into an antagonistic group, there to absorb the narrow views of life…. A divided school can no more succeed than a divided nation.”
The Masons initiative was supported by the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan was very active in different parts of the United States in the 1920s. It had a program of “practical patriotism” and “Americanism” and was alert for anything it saw as evidence of disloyalty. The Catholics were especially suspect as being communicants of an “idolatrous” church and placing primary loyalty to the Vatican and the Pope. Among the Klan’s most frequent activities were presentations of American flags to schools, churches, and private institutions. Strongly committed to the theory that a sovereign nation should train its own future citizens, it sought for a compulsory public school system for all children.
In 1922, the Mason’s proposal passed by a plurality of 15,000 in Oregon. It would have gone into effect in 1926. In 1925, the Supreme Court rendered its unanimous decision that the Oregon law was unconstitutional. It used, as the basis of its decision, the 1923 Meyer vs. Nebraska case that it had overturned. The Nebraska statute provided that no foreign language could be taught in the non-public schools of the state, and had been enacted in an atmosphere of hostility to the parochial schools. At that time, the Nebraska legislature, by only one vote, had failed to pass a law requiring all children to attend public schools.
In the 1890’s, many Catholic parochial schools considered the flag and the flagpole as an expensive frill. Sometime in the early 20th Century, the parochial schools began to fly the flag like the public schools. By the 1930s, many parochial school children were reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in their classrooms. Which church officials were responsible for incorporating this new ritual is unknown, but the Knights of Columbus may have played an important role.
During the heyday of secret societies in the United States, in the latter part of the 19th Century, Roman Catholic men longed for a fraternity, like the Masons, which could receive the approval of the Church. In 1882, Reverend Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus in New Haven, Connecticut.
The Knights looked to the Masonic Lodge for its model. In 1900, the Knights had developed a new Degree, the Fourth Degree, called the Patriotic Degree. Its primary purpose was to inculcate a love of country and impress the duties of citizenship. It gave the Knights a motto or principle of Patriotism—“patriotism enlightened and informed by religion.”
Over the years, the Knights have engaged in social, political, and patriotic campaigns. In the 1930’s, it engaged in a campaign to set up sanctions against the anti-clerical government of Mexico. After World War I, it sponsored anti-communist and anti-pornography campaigns.
In April 1951, the Supreme Board of Directors of the Fourth Degree Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus, under the leadership of Luke Hart, adopted a resolution for the Pledge to be amended to include the words, “under God,” when recited by the then 750 Fourth Degree Assemblies in the United States. The Supreme Council of the Knights, in 1952, passed a resolution urging Congress to amend the Pledge with the words, “under God.” As President of the National Fraternal Congress, Hart successfully urged the 110 societies to adopt the resolution. Copies of the resolution were sent to the President, the Vice President, and the Speaker of the House.
In April 1953, Congressman Louis C. Rabaut of Michigan introduced, in the House of Representatives, a resolution to amend the Pledge. “You and I know,” said Congressman Rabaut, “that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics would not, and could not, while supporting the philosophy of communism, place in its patriotic ritual an acknowledgement that their nation existed ‘under God’.”
On Sunday, February 7, 1954, the President and Mrs. Eisenhower were attending services at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church near the White House, when the Reverend George M. Docherty, a Scottish émigré, preached a sermon about the Pledge. Like the Knights of Columbus, he recommended amending the Pledge with the words, “under God’.”
He argued that, apart from the mention of the phrase, “the United States of America,” the Pledge could be the Pledge of any republic. “In fact, I could hear little Moscovites repeat a similar pledge to their hammer-and-sickle flag in Moscow with equal solemnity. Russia is also a republic that claims to have overthrown the tyranny of kinship. Russia also claims to be ‘indivisible’.” He said the words, “under God,” could not be used officially in an atheistic communist Russia. These two words were also in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.”
Congress now jumped on the bandwagon to pass a resolution changing the Pledge. Preparations were made for the President to sign the resolution into law on Flag Day, June 14, whereupon, a flag-raising ceremony, at the Capitol, would culminate the American Legion’s new drive to encourage people to fly the Stars and Stripes on all patriotic occasions. President Eisenhower expressed satisfaction that America’s school children would now be proclaiming daily “the dedication of our Nation and our people to the Almighty.”
These religious sentiments were common in this period. In 1954, Congress requested that all US coins and paper currency bear the slogan, “In God We Trust.” On July 11, 1955, President Eisenhower made this slogan mandatory on all currency. In 1956, the national motto was changed from ‘E Pluribus Unum’ to ‘In God We Trust’.
In 1980, Louis V. Koerber started the campaign for a yearly “Pause for the Pledge of Allegiance” on Flag Day. The movement started in the Baltimore area and every year the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company inserts “Pause for the Pledge” flyers in their May–June customer invoices.
Dr. Milton Eisenhower served as the first Honorary Chairperson of the National Pause for the Pledge Committee. Many of the members of the Pause Committee come from the McDonough School near Baltimore. Lou Koerber is a graduate of this school. Presidents, governors, and mayors have participated in this Pause. Only time will tell whether or not this will become a national ritual.
In August 1990, at the Knights of Columbus’ National Convention in Baltimore, the Supreme Council adopted the “National Pause for the Pledge Program” as a national policy. The program urges Americans everywhere, on June 14, Flag Day, to stop whatever they are doing at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and recite the Pledge of Allegiance together. Francis Bellamy probably would agree with this ritual. His patriotic words have become more sacred to his countrymen than any of the words of George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, or Abraham Lincoln. His words have become a national creed.
Today, Public Law 99–54 states that, “the Congress of the United States recognizes the Pause for the Pledge of Allegiance as part of the celebration of National Flag Day throughout the nation.” The National Flag Day Foundation’s mission includes the goal of honoring America by creating a program of national unity through the “Annual Pause for the Pledge of Allegiance” on June 14, 7 p.m. (EST).
The 13th Annual Pause for the Pledge of Allegiance, on June 14, 1992, took place as it has in the past at Fort McHenry National Park in Baltimore. Proctor and Gamble paid for the fireworks and American Airlines paid for the airfares of the students from 50 states in a “Parade of State Flags.”
Controversies Over the Pledge
Over the century, many controversies have swirled around the Pledge. One bitter controversy, for some of the supporters of the Pledge, has been the name of its author. In 1892, The Youth’s Companion had an anonymity policy for its staff writers and, therefore, the Pledge was not signed.
The first person to claim authorship of the Pledge was a high school student, Frank E. Bellamy (1876–1915). This public school student plagiarized the Pledge. Whether or not he knew that the real name of the author was Francis Bellamy or whether the similarity of names was a mere coincidence, we probably will never know. In the school year of 1895–1896, he submitted the Pledge, as his own, in a school contest at Cherryvale High School in Cherryvale, Kansas.
Mrs. Lillian A. Hendricks, of Cherryvale, was an untiring worker in the GAR’S Woman’s Relief Corps and held office as a patriotic instructor in her local organization. She had induced the principal of the town’s high school to run a contest for the 16 members of the graduating class of 1896 to write out their ideas on their debt to their country and their duty to their government. Frank’s composition included the “Pledge of Allegiance” and it won the school contest. Frank’s plagiarized Pledge made a permanent impression on Mrs. Hendricks.
A few years later, the Kansas department of Woman’s Relief Corps asked all citizens to submit their best patriotic sentiments in writing. Mrs. Hendricks submitted Frank’s Pledge of Allegiance, and it won again. Shortly thereafter, the National Woman’s Relief Corps passed a resolution thanking Frank Bellamy for writing the Pledge. In Kansas, Frank now was honored, along with Francis Scott Key and other patriotic writers, whose pens had written great expressions of loyalty to their country.
In 1898, at the beginning of the Spanish–American War, Frank joined the 20th Kansas Infantry as a member of the regimental band. While serving in the Philippines, he contracted bone tuberculosis, which eventually resulted in his death in 1915. Mrs. Hendricks successfully worked for him to receive a federal pension.
During the last year of his life, in 1915, Frank perpetuated his plagiarism by submitting, to the Kansas State Historical Society, the “original” Pledge of Allegiance in his own handwriting with his signature attached. This was published in the Historical Society’s records and in the State records. A few years later, news stories, taking seriously his claim to have written the Pledge, came to the attention of both Francis Bellamy and The Youth’s Companion. They noted it for future correction.
The most serious dispute over the authorship of the Pledge was between the claim of Francis Bellamy and James Upham. Upham had died in 1905 and apparently never commented on this controversy. Francis Bellamy and his supporters still had a long struggle to win this authorship controversy.
The management of The Youth’s Companion supported Upham’s claim. In 1910, Bellamy wrote to Seth Mendell, who was Daniel Ford’s most trusted assistant and editor of The Youth’s Companion from Ford’s death, in 1899, until his own retirement in 1916. Bellamy asked Mendell to publicly acknowledge his authorship of the Pledge. Mendell refused to do so, replying that he remembered the writing of the Pledge as a team effort under James Upham’s leadership.
Mendell also reminded Bellamy of the anonymity policy of The Youth’s Companion. He wrote that writings for the magazine, by the paid employees, were the sole possession of the company. “Anyone employed in The Youth’s Companion service and paid a salary…had no further claim upon the paper than his compensation. He therefore was not entitled to use for his personal ends any contribution made in the course of his work for the paper, not signed…” Bellamy was too busy at the time with Everybody’s Magazine to challenge Mendell’s statement.
By 1920, the Pledge was commonly recited in schools and, therefore, had become public property and could no longer be claimed as the property of The Youth’s Companion. Bellamy, with the urging of his family, began his public campaign to claim authorship. In 1920, in the New York City Stadium, before a gathering of patriotic organizations and associations, he read a speech, “The Pledge of Allegiance: How I Came to Write It.” In 1923, he wrote an article for The Elk’s Magazine entitled, “A Twenty-Three Word National Creed: How the Most Widely Known Patriotic Formula in America Came into Existence.”
On June 7, 1923, The Youth’s Companion Radio Broadcast stated in a radio quiz that Upham and his associates and the editors of The Youth’s Companion had written the Pledge, not Francis Bellamy except insofar as Bellamy was a member of the editorial team.
In 1923, Bellamy wrote to The Youth’s Companion and requested that it give him credit for the authorship of the Pledge. In a letter dated July 9, 1923, The Youth’s Companion again refused to do so, replying that the magazine still agreed with Seth Mendell’s letter of 1910. It had stated that the idea of the Pledge originated with Upham, that the first draft was written by him, and it was then hammered into shape by the proprietors of the magazine and by members of the editorial staff.
In three long affidavits, dated August 13, August 30, and September 1, 1923, on file with the County of New York, Bellamy spelled out his counterclaim to the authorship of the Pledge, including affidavits of friends and former associates confirming the truth of his claim.
In his retirement in Tampa, Florida, Bellamy continued his campaign and spoke before civic and fraternal Orders about how he wrote the Pledge.
Bellamy resented the changes in “his” Pledge made by the National Flag Conferences of 1923 and 1924. He had not been consulted by the Conferences. He believed that the words added, “of the United States of America,” were redundant and disrupted the Pledge’s rhythm.
In 1929, he was quoted, by the Tampa Tribune Newspaper, on the reasons why he resented Congresswoman Ruth Bryan Owen’s attempt to amend the Pledge to include an oath to obey the Constitution’s 21St Amendment, Prohibition. Upham’s daughter, Bertha Upham Proctor, living in Clearwater, Florida, saw this news story and wrote the Tribune and protested Bellamy’s claim to the Pledge’s authorship. She argued that her father had written it. This was the first time the authorship controversy became an open family feud between the Uphams and the Bellamys.
The Youth’s Companion and Maiden, Massachusetts (Upham’s hometown and place of burial) were the principal public champions of Upham’s claim to authorship. In 1917, the Librarian, of Malden, Massachusetts, asked the magazine whether or not Upham was the author of the Pledge. The Youth’s Companion said ‘yes’ and in December 1917, published an account of the origin of the Pledge with Upham’s portrait. Later, it issued a leaflet for the files of the nation’s public libraries, describing how Upham had written the Pledge and quoting, as evidence, statements by former personnel of the magazine.
In 1939, the United States Flag Association, headquartered in Washington, DC, set up a Committee to Determine Authorship of the Pledge. The two contending families presented their evidence. The Committee was composed of three Professors—a Fordham American History Professor, a George Washington University Political Science Professor, and a Georgetown University American History Professor. The Committee unanimously decided that Bellamy, not Upham, was the author of the Pledge. However, some of the reference books continued to list Upham as the author.
Malden and most of Massachusetts continued to support Upham’s claim. In 1942, Massachusetts Governor Leverett Saltonstall dedicated a memorial plaque to James Upham during a celebration in Malden. As a Senator from Massachusetts, he inserted an item in the Congressional Retard of December 19, 1945, stating that Upham was the author of the Pledge. In 1956, The Malden Evening News ran a series of articles by Archie Birtwell supporting Upham’s claim.
In 1957, the authorship battle was fought once again. At the urging of Congress, the Legislative Reference Service of the Library of Congress researched the topic. Margarette S. Miller, with help from Bellamy’s son, David, and Dr. John R. Russell, librarian of the University of Rochester, presented the Bellamy case. Archie B. Birtwell, a reporter with The Malden Evening News in Malden, Massachusetts, presented the evidence for Upham. Again, Bellamy’s claim to authorship of the Pledge won.
The champion of Bellamy was Margarette Miller. Originally a press photographer and educational publications editor in New York City, Miller had moved to Portsmouth, Virginia, where she worked 21 years in the Portsmouth public school system, mainly in the administration offices, finishing her career as a publications editor for the school system. In the 1930s, she was shocked to discover that nobody in the educational establishment or elsewhere knew who wrote the Pledge. In 1936, she began her research into the circumstances surrounding the Pledge’s authorship and by 1942, had come to the conclusion that Bellamy had written it. Her first book on this topic, I Pledge Allegiance was published in 1946. Her second book Twenty-Three Words was published in 1976. Margarette Miller, several years later, set up a National Bellamy Award Organization to honor outstanding public high schools. Its director, in 1992, was Frank DiBerardino.
“The devil of it all,” she said, “is that I am sure that if I had even known Mr. Upham or Bellamy personally, I would have been much fonder of Mr. Upham as an individual. He was, from everything I can gather, a very reserved, fine gentleman of the old school, and handsome too—the perfect, proper Bostonian. Mr. Bellamy, on the other hand, I have the impression, was a little more flamboyant—a wiry man with a lot of bite.”
The Upham Family Society, Inc., which eventually was renamed the Malden Historical Society, reissued The Youth’s Companion Pledge pamphlet over the years. In the 1950s, the Society placed a flagpole in front of the Phineas Upham House, the oldest historical house in Malden, to honor James Upham as the Pledge’s author. The Uphams traced their ancestry to leaders in early colonial New England.
In the 1960’s, Louise Harris, of Providence, RI, took up the defense of Upham’s claims to the authorship of the Pledge. Harris was a scholar on CA. Stephens, the most popular writer for The Youth’s Companion, and had given her C.A. Stephens Collection to Brown University. Her research, available at Brown University, convinced her that Upham was the author. She was very familiar with The Youth’s Companion and had studied Upham’s leadership role in its patriotic campaigns to place the American flag over every public school in the nation and to initiate the 1892 National Public School Celebration for Columbus Day. Knowing the leadership role of Upham in these campaigns and of his efforts to write a Pledge, Harris could not believe that Francis Bellamy had written it.
The leaders of the Malden Historical Society and the Malden Newspaper agreed with her. In 1974, she gave a speech before the Upham Family Society, Inc., in their annual meeting at the Upham House. The talk was based on her book, The Flag Over the School House.
In the 1970s, she continued her campaign for Upham, by convincing Senator Clairborne Pell, of her own state, Rhode Island, to continue the research into the authorship controversy. The Library of Congress’ Congressional Research Service, in 1975, made another investigation and came to the conclusion that Francis Bellamy was the author of the Pledge.
The World Almanac continued to list both Bellamy and Upham as possible authors of the Pledge, until about 1980, when Bellamy’s claim to sole authorship was accepted. Most of the leaders of Malden reluctantly accepted Bellamy’s authorship claim during the 1980’s, but Miss Harris never did.
Throughout the century, some Americans have refused to recite the Pledge. In the 1930s, this issue reached the US Supreme Court when the Jehovah’s Witnesses, on religious grounds, refused to recite it. “Thou shall not bow down thyself to any graven image.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses considered the Pledge blasphemous in the eyes of God, a violation of the biblical injunction to worship no graven images. Since they were being persecuted in Nazi Germany at this time, the Jehovah’s Witnesses also resented the common practice of saluting the flag, with a stiff-arm salute. The original flag salute, as designed by Bellamy and Upham, included raising a stiff right arm on saluting the flag, somewhat similar to the Nazi, ‘Heil Hitler’.
The Witnesses do not salute the flag of any nation on religious principles. They believe that a nation’s chief symbol, of faith and object of worship, is often wrongfully a flag and a nation. The flag ritual, of raising and lowering, saluting, and reciting the Pledge, is a ‘liturgical’ religious exercise. They believe that many people consider saluting the flag as a form of religious devotion, and that such devotion is forbidden by God’s law. They also do not sing a national anthem, which they consider a “hymn” and, therefore, another forbidden form of worship.
In the 1930s, about 200 children were expelled from the public schools for refusing to recite the Pledge, many of them children of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and almost half of them in Pennsylvania.
This problem first reached the US Supreme Court in the 1940 Gobitis decision. William Gobitis, a 10-year-old of a Jehovah Witness family and an excellent student, politely refused to recite the Pledge and unintentionally challenged the authority of his teacher and Superintendent of Education in Minersville, Pennsylvania. This was a small anthracite coal town that had been in the area of the Irish Molly McGuire terrorism in the previous century. He said that “I do not salute the flag not because I do not love my country. I love my country, but I love God more and must obey his commandments.” His argument proved unpersuasive, both with the local school authorities and with all the nine Supreme Court Justices, except for Harlan F. Stone. Justice Felix Frankfurther wrote, in his opinion for the court, that local autonomy in educational policy and national unity takes precedence over the religious rights of children.
In Minersville, the reaction to the Gobitis ruling was swift and brutal. The Gobitises were jeered on the streets. His schoolmates beat William Gobitis and the local churches lead a boycott of his father’s local grocery store. Around the nation over the next two years, a wave of anti-Jehovah’s Witness hysteria ensued.
In Richwood, West Virginia, members of the sheriff’s department and the American Legion forced nine Witnesses, who refused to salute the flag, to swallow castor oil and then tied them together with a rope, and paraded them through town. Jehovah’s Witnesses in Illinois were tarred; in Nebraska, one was castrated. In Kennebunk, Maine, the citizens sacked and burned a Jehovah’s Witness Hall. The Justice Department received reports of more than 800 incidents of harassment over two years, and public schools around the country reportedly expelled some 2,000 Witness children. Reciting the Pledge was considered a test of loyalty for both children and adults, instead of a voluntary gesture of political and social conformity.
Another Jehovah’s Witnesses case against the Pledge again reached the Supreme Court. Two sisters, surnamed Barnett, were expelled from a school in nearby Charleston, West Virginia, for refusing to salute and recite the Pledge before a picture of the flag in front of the classroom.
In 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that students could not be compelled to recite the Pledge. Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote the court’s position paper in the case, West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnette. He said that “no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” This decision ended the persecution of the Jehovah’s Witness children in the public schools around the nation and gave students the right not to recite the Pledge in case of religious objections.
Occasionally, the requirement that students recite the Pledge is still challenged. Although a student may refuse to recite the Pledge, it is a very uncomfortable situation. For example, in 1991, a student in the Boston school system refused to recite the Pledge. On the first day of class at the Boston Latin School, he did not stand up and recite the Pledge when it was piped into is seventh-grade homeroom. The headmaster told him that he could not continue sitting during the Pledge. Throughout his academic life, this student had stayed seated during the Pledge and read silently.
He and his father sought help from the Massachusetts Civil Liberties Union, which cited the 1943 US Supreme Court case, West Virginia State Board of Education ’11. Barnette. The Boston Latin School administration relented and now allows him to remain seated during the Pledge as long as he is silent and does not read. The precocious 12-year-old considered the Pledge a hypocritical exhortation to patriotism; in his View, there is no ‘liberty and justice for all’.
Sometimes, the Pledge requirement in the public schools is a political issue which politicians support but educators do not. In 1988, the Mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, stated that in the city’s public schools, “the Pledge of Allegiance is a requirement…this organization stands for the Pledge of Allegiance.” However, the Chancellor of the public schools stated no teacher or student would be forced to recite the Pledge. One Board of Education member said, “My children are black and they won’t pledge allegiance because when it says liberty and justice for all, it’s not true”. Another Board member said, “How do you pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth?…What I’d like to see is a curriculum on the real meaning of the Constitution.”
Some adults are urging the removal of the Pledge in public patriotic rituals. For example, in 1992, two members of the Takoma Park, Maryland City Council requested that the recitation of the Pledge be replaced with a pause for a period of contemplation about the business at hand and the welfare of the city. The Council has been reciting the Pledge as part of its opening ritual since 1961. The Mayor supports maintaining the present practice of saying the Pledge at the Council’s regular, televised sessions.
The Councilmen argued that by using the Pledge to open City Council meetings, the government was requiring the swearing of a loyalty oath by its Councilmen and its citizens as part of a public process and that those who choose not to recite it are put in jeopardy of having their loyalty questioned.
They also objected to the phrase, “one nation under God,” because it collides with the principle separating Church and State. Both members are atheists and they feel that the ‘under God’ phrase in the Pledge requires the citizens to make a religious statement and that such an exercise is contradictory to the operation of a free society and to the doctrine of separation of Church and State listed in the First Amendment.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the American Ethical Society and the ministers of the Unitarian Church have presented similar criticism of the “under God” phrase. Some American Muslims have substituted the word, ‘Allah’ in place of ‘God’. Teachers in Maryland were upset by a state standardized test that asked third grade students to compare the Pledge of Allegiance to praying to God. The Pledge is more a creed than an actual prayer, but this question is rarely debated in public. The history of the Pledge is rarely discussed in the classroom.
There have been cases on the state level involving adults and the Pledge. For example, in 1984, the California courts ruled that the City of Berkeley, California could not be excluded from a countywide Board merely because the Berkeley City Council members refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance before their meetings. It was also ruled that it was unconstitutional to require an art teacher to lead her homeroom pupils in the Pledge.
Perhaps, the greatest political controversy involving the Pledge occurred in the 1988 Presidential Election Campaign. In his acceptance speech, Michael Dukakis said before the Democratic National Convention; “the issue is competence, not ideology”. In his acceptance speech before the Republican National Convention in New Orleans, Vice President George Bush disagreed and took the offensive on the ‘values’ questions symbolized by the Pledge. Bush said, “Should public school teachers be required to lead our children in the Pledge of Allegiance?…My opponent says no—but I say yes.” He had the entire Republican Convention recite the Pledge.
Many Americans consider the Pledge a loyalty oath. Some believe that reciting the Pledge helps protect the nation from alien influences. Others see the recitation of the Pledge as a sign of unity, obedience, or conformity Dukakis’ refusal to require Massachusetts’ teachers to recite the Pledge caused some Americans to see him as ‘un-American’ and a ‘foreigner’. Bush added to this theme by calling Dukakis a ‘card-carrying member’ of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Throughout the campaign, Bush argued that he would have signed the bill that Michael Dukakis vetoed in 1977, requiring teachers to lead their classes in the Pledge. “What is it about the Pledge of Allegiance that upsets him so much?” Bush said of Dukakis. “It is very hard for me to imagine that the Founding Fathers—Samuel Adams and John Hancock and John Adams—would have objected to teachers leading students in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States.”
In 1977, the Massachusetts Legislature had passed a law which said that “Each teacher, at the commencement of the first class of each day, in all grades, in all public schools, shall lead the class in a group recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.” It imposed a fine of five dollars for teachers if they did not lead their classes in the Pledge. Dukakis vetoed the law on the advice of his Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. The Court held, in a 5–2 decision that the measure violated teachers’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion.
The Massachusetts Legislature overrode the Governor’s veto, with lawmakers singing, “God Bless America” on the House floor after the vote. The Dukakis veto had angered many groups including the American Legion. The controversial law has not been tested yet in the courts, probably because, so far, it has not been enforced.
As a school child, Dukakis was much more familiar with the Pledge than was Bush. Bush even may have learned the Pledge for the first time in the 1988 campaign. The young Dukakis and his teachers, in the public schools, had recited the Pledge almost daily in the classroom. The young Bush and his private school teachers, in the Greenwich Country Day School in Connecticut and Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, had almost never recited the Pledge. Even today, the Pledge is rarely recited in most prestigious private schools in New England. Beginning in the 1930’s, the recitation of the Pledge in the public school classrooms was required in Massachusetts, but apparently no permanent law anywhere in the USA has required it to be recited in the private schools.
Bush’s campaign managers, especially Lee Atwater and Robert Ailes, probably picked this Pledge issue in order to paint Dukakis as a far-out Massachusetts liberal. Dukakis affirmed his belief in the Pledge and argued that Bush was impugning his patriotism: “You don’t run around suggesting to people that a rival for the presidency of the United States is less committed to the Pledge of Allegiance and to what it means without impugning his patriotism.”
Dukakis was correct about the importance of the Pledge in American patriotism, if you accept the results of a 1988 Washington Post poll. When the respondents were asked, “Can someone be patriotic and still refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag?”, 71 percent said “no” and 26 percent said “yes.” Very similar results were obtained on the question, “Can someone be patriotic and still refuse to stand when the National Anthem is being played?” In contrast, on the answers to the question, “Can someone be patriotic and still cheat on their income tax?”, 56 percent said “no” and 38 percent said “yes.”
Dukakis was incorrect in saying that his campaign was about “competence” and not about values. Politics includes the setting of society’s standards and not just about taxes, revenues, and foreign and domestic problems. Values are a spur to action and political debates include values. The Pledge is a statement of values and now serves as a national creed. The fact that the Pledge includes the words, “under God,” and not the word, “equality,” says something about the values of the nation.
This controversy affected the local public schools. For example, in Montgomery County, Maryland, in September, 1988, the county superintendent of education ordered the secondary school principals to make provisions for daily recitation of the Pledge, in compliance with the Maryland state law. The secondary schools had dropped the morning homeroom session and they had, thus, unintentionally and illegally dropped the morning Pledge recitation. To comply with the law, a student recites the Pledge each day over the public address system during the third period announcement period. The Maryland law, requiring the Pledge, was passed in 1917 and a 1971 amendment to the law permits individual students and teachers to exempt themselves from the Pledge.
In the colonial period in America, formal patriotism revolved around the person of the British king, his family, the British flag, and to some extent, the established British church—the Episcopalian Church. The colonial officials and ministers of the established church swore an oath of loyalty to the crown.
One could argue that the word, “nation,” is misused in the Pledge. The Founding Fathers used the word “people” instead of “nation” or “country,” because “nation” implied a homogeneous group, who had been born in the same place and had a common ancestry, culture, and language. “Country” was too vague, originally meaning an area larger than a district. “People” meant those who were part of the government, and so, this term in the Constitution does not explicitly exclude African-Americans, women, and persons from diverse cultures from the body politic.
During the American Revolution, the centerpiece of American patriotism was the Declaration of Independence, the liberty tree, and the new flag. After the Revolution, patriotic programs revolved around addresses praising the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, its Bill of Rights, and the flag. In an age of no television, radio, and relatively expensive books and newspapers, the patriotic oration and the church sermon were important parts of the entertainment and intellectual stimulation.
During the Civil War, patriotism began to focus more on the flag. In the Civil War, the battle standard of the fighting unit was the flag, either Union or Confederate. In the 1890’s, there was an increase in interest in the North in bringing back the patriotism of the Civil War. The revival of interest in the Civil War was reflected in the novel, The Red Badge of Courage. The American flag was the Union’s battle flag; in the South, the American flag often had lower status than the Confederate flag up until the Spanish–American War.
In the 1890s, Army and Navy Regulations called for the use of the “Star-Spangled Banner” when a celebration called for the performance of a National Anthem. President Woodrow Wilson confirmed this usage during World War I. Congress and President Hoover signed a Bill making the “Star-Spangled Banner” the National Anthem in 1931. Thus, beginning at least in the 1890s, American patriotic ritual gradually shifted from reciting from the US Constitution or the Declaration of Independence to giving a central role in patriotic programs to the flag in the National Anthem and in the flag salute and recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
After the Civil War, the word, “equality,” was a “radical” concept associated with civil rights for African-Americans and the female suffrage movements. The white males, who usually dominated politics and education, were uncomfortable with the theme of “equality” even though it was stated clearly or implied in the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address. The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal. . .” The Preamble of the Constitution implies, or at least does not deny, the concept of equality. It starts, “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union…”
For most of his life, Abraham Lincoln did not believe in “equality” for African-Americans and women, but under the pressure of the Civil War and the influence of such advisors as Frederick Douglass, he made a statement for equality in his Gettysburg Address in late 1863. “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” This statement of principle was not accepted by most of the white people in the South and, possibly, the majority of the white males in the North. The males in both sectors, for the most part, did not believe in “equality” for women.
In 1892, the “equality” theme, in the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, and implied in the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, probably made these statements unsuitable for patriotic recitation on a daily basis in the classroom. Most of the white male school superintendents and board members of the public school systems considered the “equality” theme too radical. These public school systems were often segregated by race and commonly prejudiced, not only towards African-Americans and women, but also towards most of the southern and eastern European immigrants.
Yet, these white male superintendents of education and board members wanted to teach patriotism to the public school children. They thought of patriotism as the love of and loyal support of one’s own country, especially in matters involving other countries. Many superintendents believed that the American nation was the fulfillment and the realization of the ethical and social ideals of responsible citizens. National loyalty was to be above family, community, racial, or ethnic loyalty. How is a student to be taught devotion to her or his country, expressed not only in a readiness to lay down their lives for their nation, but also to identify with the larger social life, loyally pursuing the common purpose?
The student would learn more than the national ideals considered desirable by these 1892 superintendents of education if they memorized the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, or the Gettysburg Address. These statements contained an implied, but taboo, ideal of equality for African-Americans, females, and persons of diverse cultures. Bellamy and Upham’s Pledge of Allegiance flag ritual avoided the concept of “equality” and thus created a form of patriotism that segregated schools systems could incorporate into their patriotic exercises.
To sum up, patriotic ritual in America today usually revolves around a solemn act of saluting the flag and reciting a formalized creed and oath of loyalty, the “Pledge of Allegiance.” Today, this formal observance has become the customary procedure in opening ceremonies for school days, fraternal meetings, city and county government meetings, and the US Congress. It is overwhelmingly the favorite form of patriotic ritual today for the public and parochial school systems.
This was dramatically illustrated in one of the September 1987, Observances of the bicentennial of the Constitution. This nationally televised extravaganza included President Reagan leading representative school children in the Pledge of Allegiance from the Capitol steps. Speeches by congressional leaders and a reading of the Constitution’s Preamble by retired Chief Justice Warren E. Burger also were televised. The students present probably could not recite, by memory, parts of the Constitution and its Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Independence. But virtually all of them had memorized the Pledge. The Pledge apparently fits in well with the modern generation, which responds well to advertising slogans and has little curiosity as to their origins or hidden meaning of the slogans.
Will the central role of the Pledge in most American patriotic rituals continue to be much more important than the skimpy role of the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or the Gettysburg Address during the next century? If you argue that the Pledge may disappear, you could compare its role in American ritual as against the role of a pledge and flag salute in other nations. The importance of the role of a pledge and a flag salute in the United States is almost unique among nations. Few countries have a verbal flag salute mentioning the flag. The Philippines, a former colony of the United States, uses a pledge as a flag salute. Australia has a pledge, which is used only occasionally at formal school meetings.
If the flag salute retains its role in American patriotic rituals, will it be changed in any way? Its history suggests that its wording will be changed. It was written in 1892 and revised by the National Flag Conferences of 1923 and 1924 and again in 1954. If this historic pattern repeats, it should be revised about once every 30 years. A change in the Pledge is overdue. What will be the new wording?
Today the “average” voting American citizen is not a white male as in 1892, but much more likely to be female, Hispanic, African-American, or Asian. This new “average” voter may request that the word, “equality,” be added to the Pledge, especially as she becomes more aware of the history of the Pledge and Francis Bellamy’s original impulse to include the words “equality” and “fraternity” in the Pledge of 1892.
With the defeat of communism and state socialism around the world, and the growth of the capitalistic welfare state, with its relatively free education and medical care, the American public may demand equality of opportunity and treatment not only from their government, but also in the Pledge.
The concepts of liberty and justice are included in the concept of “freedom.” But freedom’s two major criteria are probably individual liberty and equality of opportunity for all. There is a dynamic tension between liberty and equality. Everybody wants freedom, but there is potential conflict between your liberty and the rights of someone else. Equality is a healthy restraint for unlimited liberty. Equality is a substitute for love of dominance. Social and class ranking is awkward and inhibiting in a modern economy. One assumes that all the automobiles are “equal” on a highway and follow the laws accordingly. Exceptions are made for ambulances, fire engines, and police cars, but, hopefully, not for politicians and Cadillacs.
The concepts of equality and justice includes the standard that the government should treat all people equally. The inscription over the Supreme Court building is “Equal Justice Under Law.” For the individual, it implies the willingness to let the other person win. As for the concept of “fraternity,” Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms included it—freedom of speech and religion, and especially freedom from fear and want.
Forecasting is a risky business, but the above reasoning would suggest the following forecasts for the wording of the Pledge of Allegiance. Bellamy’s original version, if he had been permitted by the National Education Association to put the word, “equality,” in his original Pledge, might have gone as follows:
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic, for which it stands, one. nation indivisible, with equality, liberty, and justice for all.”
Taking into consideration the recent Supreme Court decisions on prayer in the public schools, the following version might become the new version:
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with equality, liberty, and justice for all.”
The Flag, Pledge, Anthem, and Maryland Patriotism
The Preamble of the US Constitution reads as follows: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” This Constitution does not mention patriotism, a flag, a Pledge of Allegiance, a national anthem, or “God.”
In 1787, the original 13 states defined the “People” governed by the United States Constitution as affluent, white males with property. Thus, most people were excluded from being citizens of the United States, including females, slaves, Indians, and white males without property Most of these groups had no voting rights, no right to hold office, few civil rights, and often no right to use the federal, state, and local courts. There was no “liberty and justice for all” in the United States in 1787. Not until the 1960s did the civil rights movement give “liberty and justice for all” to most Americans.
The “Founding Fathers” intentionally set up a government which would provide social stability, civil rights, rule of law, religious and spiritual freedom, and liberty (“freedom”) for themselves. They wanted a government strong enough to manage the new western territories and counter the threat from the European empires.
They wanted a competent legal system with honesty and authenticity in the courtroom, procedures that were not belittling or demeaning, and fair judges protecting the rights of minorities and the individual. The judges and state prosecutors would respect a citizen’s mind, body, and spirit. The citizens would listen to one another and respect the inherent worth and dignity of other citizens, and seek justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.
They wanted a government of checks and balances. The executive body and the legislative body would agree on the legislation. The federal court system would require both of these bodies to “tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth” in the courtroom. This judicial system would limit the ability of the legislative and executive bodies to cover up the secrets about their operations and perhaps expose their efforts to misinform or tell lies to the public and to each other.
They wanted a society based as much on “truth, goodness, and beauty” as on “faith, hope, and charity.” They wanted a government of “gentlemen” who would not lie and would not take bribes. They would not make accusations without proof in order to discredit opponents. They would not play up to cultural animosities and demonize their opponents and condemn those who were different in a society of diversity. They hoped to avoid politics that was hysterically partisan, transparently dishonest, willfully stupid, caricaturing their opponents as immoral or evil, and using crackpot conspiracy theories.
This government was to be a secular, federated constitutional, representative republic with domestic peace and liberty and justice for themselves, for their offspring, and eventually maybe for others. They wanted stable institutions that guaranteed free elections, the rule of law, protection for human rights, and permitted the functioning of a free market system. They did not want a democracy but they were willing to risk the chance that their republic might be turned into a democratic republic.
The Founding Fathers were part of the Enlightenment. They extended to all citizens what had been the preserve of a few – a life run according to reason. If every citizen respected reason and science, commerce and the natural and social sciences could flourish. They wanted to be liberated from the claims of kings, nobles, priests, clergy, and their myths for claimed privileges. They wanted a secular republic.
The Founders had a distrust of pure democracy. They wanted a higher mental life for themselves which is often difficult in a pure democracy of mob rule and intimidation. They wanted a society encouraging the untrammeled use of reason. The citizens would be liberated from the force of tyrants, and the authority of myths. They feared political leaders who would pursue their own short-term self interest and that of their special interest groups at the expense of the long-term public good.
The Founding Fathers feared the “mob” behavior of uneducated people. They feared the recurring cycles of hysteria that occasionally would threaten freedoms and rights of the individual and minority groups which they wanted protected from the government or the whim of the majority. They feared the clergy who used religion as a superstitious and intolerant political platform and manipulated religion to further their intolerant political agendas. They feared the political and religious demagogues who built their political power and political forces on lies, hates, hypocrisies, and personal vilification of their opponents, who promoted cultural wars, and who would denigrate the importance of civility and moderation in politics. They wanted institutional politics which respected human dignity and the liberties of citizens.
They knew and followed the humanist teachings which counseled them to heed the guidance of reason and science. They were accustomed to a free search for truth and meaning. They liked a rich diversity of individuals. They picked for themselves the national motto, “E Pluribus Unum” (“one out of many”), a quote from Saint Augustine’s book, Confessions. In 1956, the US Congress replaced this national motto of the Founding Fathers with “In God We Trust.”
The Founding Fathers wanted a society that would strive to create a political, social, and economic, and multicultural environment that challenges, inspires, encourages, and supports the quest for the “good society,” knowledge, and religious fulfillment. They invited all persons of every faith, culture, and creed or no creed to engage in a search for truth, prosperity, and a peaceful society. They believed in the dignity and worth of every citizen.
The leading Founding Fathers were mainly Christian deists or deists. The deists pushed protection of rights and liberties against state power. They wanted to minimize mistrust in political life. In the 17th Century, the most dangerous mistrust arose from religious contention. “God” is not mentioned in the US Constitution. Yet, “God” is mentioned in the Preamble of the 1861 Constitution of the Confederacy and in the Constitution of Maryland and many other states. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison—two deists and close friends—managed to incorporate their views about separation of Church and State, first into the laws of Virginia and then into the US Constitution.
They wanted the natural right to life, liberty, happiness, and the pursuit of property. They wanted citizens who practices both the Christian and Humanist virtues and who were capable of calculating their self-interests and that of their society. In protecting their own rights, the citizens would accept their duties to the community and government that help protect them from domestic and foreign violence. The passions of the citizens would be under the control of reason and the citizens would respect the rights of others so that their own rights would be respected. The citizens would obey the laws because they help make them.
Many of the Founding Fathers did not have a vision of a patriotic citizen as one who had a belief in God. A good citizen could be secular and anti-religious. The Constitution does not define what a “patriotic American” is or what our patriotic rituals should be.
Up until the Civil War, most patriotic programs revolved around listening to the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and stories of the patriotic behavior of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson James Madison, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton. The Founding Fathers had no religious heroes. They did not want a church leader as the spiritual and temporal head of government and society. The Founding Fathers assumed that a “patriotic American” would be interested in the ideas of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison in writing the US Constitution and the Federalist Papers and in Thomas Jefferson in writing the Declaration of Independence.
They wanted religious freedom. Most of them had a faith free from formal dogma and creed. They wanted religious pluralism, including the faith of atheism. They wanted citizens who were inspired to deepen their understanding of man, nature, and God and who were willing to expand their vision of the same.
They were aristocrats choosing equality over aristocracy because they believed that equality was more just than inequality and privileges. Thrones and altars were often the basis of unjust inequality and prejudice. They feared the tyranny of the majority. They believed that by nature, all men are free and equal and that they have rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.
A republic’s strength and stability derives from the allegiance of the citizens and not through force or kings, dictators, or religious ideology. This allegiance endures if citizens trust that their government will generally further their interests. As a free people, the citizens enter into a covenant promising mutual trust and support. Minorities must be able to trust the majority to honor the minorities’ rights. When mistrust endures over time, many citizens see themselves as a disaffected group. This group may try to leave the union or the government may restrain them through repressive force or expel or even exterminate them.
What is “patriotism?” “Patriotism” means different things to different Americans but it can be defined as a love of country, pride in it, and readiness to make sacrifices for what is considered its best interest. However, an American, like most people, often has a tendency to try to force others to believe that what really is in his own interest or in his group’s interest or his class interest is a reflection of his unselfish devotion to his country. The Founders of the Constitution were keenly aware of the threat to unity that religion could pose. In some of the colonies, non-favored church groups were forbidden to evangelize, attendance to the established church was required, expression of disrespect toward ministers was forbidden, and blasphemy could be punished by death. Many clergymen had sworn an oath of allegiance to King George III.
“Patriotism” in a democratic republic involves trust. An idealization of “oneness” helps overcome the natural distrust of others. Taking an oath is loyalty. Democracy is often filled with ethnic and racial contention and sometimes mutual disdain. When citizen relations are full of distrust, patriotism is an effort to solve this collective problem of loyalty and trust in government; Trust is the willingness of a citizen in the short run to accept vulnerability to another’s hopefully temporary ill will in promoting social justice, economic development, voluntary reforms, and maintaining the rule of law. Patriotism is the willingness of an individual to sacrifice his life, limbs, and property while helping his government in its conflicts.
Patriotism is closely related to “nationalism.” “Nationalism” is a philosophy that the nation state is the highest value in a society and is a type of secular religion. Often the United States is assumed to be under God’s guidance. Some Americans see the USA as the source of all moral power and moral insight—as if God has picked the USA to be the savior of the world and the fulfillment of the Ten Commandments and the New Testament.
“Patriotism” in the USA is sometimes synonymous with the concept of “Americanism,” which is often identified with the ethnocentricity of the dominant ethnic group in the society. The concept of “Americanism” is the concept that American institutions, traditions, and beliefs are superior to all other institutions, traditions, and beliefs around the world.
A major job for a representative democratic republic is how to convert distrust into trust—how to maintain the loyalty of the citizens. The government tries to maintain the loyalty of its citizens through rituals that help create trust. The citizens need to see themselves as members of institutions (churches, schools, universities, businesses, federal, state, and local governments) and that they can affect the behavior of these institutions. These institutions can permit citizen participation. Like friendship and family, the institutions have a shared life.
The Founding Fathers had a different type of patriotic ritual than what we see today. The favorite patriotic celebration was the celebration of the Declaration of Independence—“Independence Day” on the 4th of July. Also celebrated at other times were the US Constitution and its first 10 Amendments, the “Bill of Rights.” The Founding Fathers’ motto was, “E Pluribus Unum”—“one out of many,” a motto promoting diversity. Their patriotic rituals honored the patriotism of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. Also honored were local and state legislatures’ patriots and their efforts in creating laws, ordinances, courts, rights, and law enforcement. The flag had a small role in most patriotic celebrations.
The type of patriotism we see today in the United States has a history and it developed mainly after the Civil War. This patriotism has been directed by a relatively few groups in American society. Early patriotism was associated with the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution and commentary about same by great Senators and Congressmen like Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, John Calhoun, and John Quincy Adams.
Before the Civil War, most states had evolved into “democratic republics” for their white male citizens. “Liberty and justice for all” citizens in the United States arrived in the 1960s with the civil rights movement. Today, the USA is a “democratic republic” with liberty and justice for all those who can afford it in the courts.
American patriotism historically has shown not only support for the principles of “liberty and justices for all” but also the rejection of the concept of “equality for all.” American patriotic ritual reflects the historical influence of segregation, sexism, and militarism. Since the 1950’s religious influences also have increased in the official patriotism.
Many religious leaders claim that religion should exert a strong influence over the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of our local, state, and federal governments. Some of them object to the view that the Founding Fathers set up a secular federal government, strictly enjoined by the Constitution, not to aid or hinder religion. Many religious leaders believe that the federal, state, and local governments should support religion and their religious values.
Today, American patriotic exercises are associated mainly with the Flag, the Pledge, the National Anthem, and God; and much less with the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, or the patriotic examples and genius of the Founding Fathers.
The flag represents an organization or country on a rectangular piece of cloth that is designed to be seen at a distance. The flag is usually reproduced in quantity and in many different sizes. This flag grew out of heraldry—the practice of designing coats of arms. The flag evolved to represent royal families and their countries. The use of a flag, as the identifying national symbol, is relatively recent historically and is associated with the rise of the nation state or “nationalism.” For example, the British flag first became commonly used under James II in the early 1600s.
Vexillology is the scientific study of flags. Two of the basic principles of flag design are simplicity and the use of only two or three colors. Most vexillologists apparently think the American flag has a good design and pleasing colors. A few vexillologists think the American flag has a mediocre design and garish colors.
Apparently, no vexillographers has requested that the US flag be redesigned to change its simple design of stars and stripes or change its color combination of red, white, and blue. Vexillologists argue over where it ranks in beauty with the flags of other countries.
Most Americans consider the American flag very attractive. Some of our citizens have two flags to honor because they have dual citizenship. For over 50 years after the Civil War, many southerners, who supported the Confederacy in the Civil War, disliked the American flag because it represented the conquering Union Army. They preferred the Confederate flag. The Jehovah Witnesses, on religious grounds, refuse to salute it.
Today, some Americans have turned the flag into a fetish, flying it 24/7 at home and at work, wearing a flag on their lapel or on their blouse, and wearing the flag pattern in towels, swim suits, their shirts, blouses, shorts, and even their underwear. Many fly the flag from their cars or place flag stickers on their car bumpers. Many businesses have the flag in their advertisements. Some businesses place the flag at their point of sale, e.g., on their new or used autos.
Before the Civil War, the flag was used mainly for military purposes on land and as an identifying signal at sea. Historically, the flag was rarely seen except on patriotic occasions. Today, most Americans have grown up revering the flag as the most sacred symbol of their nation. This flag cult started after the Civil War.
Francis Hopkinson may have designed the American flag. He may have gotten the idea for stars from his own coat of arms and joined this with the stripes from Washington’s coat of arms. Hopkinson was a member of the Continental Congress from New Jersey and was a member of the Marine Committee of the Continental Congress in 1776. Congress accepted his design on June 14, 1777—the origins of Flag Day. For decades, this flag was rarely seen on the battlefields because the American troops were accustomed to using their regimental colors. Except at forts, headquarters, and other buildings, the Army rarely used the flag and did not use the national flag in battle until the 1800s.
Probably, the first time the new flag floated over a fort was on August 3, 1777 at Fort Stanwix (later called Fort Schuyler) located at the present day Rome, NY. The fort flew this flag while resisting a British and Indian invasion of Western New York State. Francis Bellamy, the author of the Pledge, was raised in Rome and is buried there. He probably knew this flag history.
Today, American patriotism is unique among nations in that so much of our patriotism revolves around this flag. The United States was the first country to have a Flag Day, a Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, a National Anthem—The Star Spangled Banner—and an elaborate flag etiquette code. The Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights, and the Gettysburg Address are subordinated to the flag in American patriotism today.
During the Civil War, a cult grew up in the North focusing on the flag. The flag was the rallying point in the battlefield for Union forces. The Union flag was honored with art, music, literature, public display, and ceremony. The Grand Army of the Republic veterans’ organizations and hereditary societies, such as the Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution, helped establish a cult of devotion to the Stars and Stripes in the 1880s and 1890s.
In the 1880’s and 1890’s, James Upham, head of the Premium Department at The Youth’s Companion magazine, promoted the purchase and display of the flag in front of the public school and later in its classroom. Union Civil War veterans, aided by their women’s auxiliaries, spread the practice of regular flag rituals in the public schools. Various hereditary societies also lead the drive to place the flag in front of the public school and then in the classrooms.
Today, the flag is a focal element in the production, propagation, and dissemination of an American civil religion. A civil religion is a set of beliefs and attitudes that explain the meaning and purpose of a political society in terms of its relationship to God and the spiritual beliefs of a society. This civil religion is expressed in public patriotic rituals, myths, and symbols. The Civil War stimulated a civil religion in the North and that system evolved throughout the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. The Pledge of Allegiance, written and published in 1892, and the National Anthem, adopted by Congress in 1931 were part of this trend.
The Youth’s Companion magazine published the Pledge of Allegiance in its September 8th issue of 1892. In 1898, shortly after the United States Congress declared war on Spain, the New York state legislature passed the first state compulsory verbal flag salute. The law mandated daily flag salute in all public schools. The New York Department of Education gave the teacher five verbal flag salutes to chose from, one of which was the Pledge of Allegiance. The Pledge recitation statues passed the state legislature of Rhode Island in 1901, Arizona in 1903, Kansas in 1907, and Maryland in 1918.
After World War I, the newly formed American Legion, sometimes joined by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, began pressuring state legislatures to make the Pledge of Allegiance a compulsory ritual for public school students. The number of states requiring public schools to recite the Pledge has varied widely over the century.
In 2006, 43 states require the public school students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. A prototypical statue goes as follows, “Every instructional day in the public schools of this state shall be commenced with the Pledge of Allegiance. Pupils who do not wish to participate in this patriotic exercise shall be excused from reciting the Pledge.” Oregon requires only one recitation a week. Wisconsin also requires private-school students to recite the Pledge. Wisconsin also gives the public schools the option of substituting the National Anthem for the Pledge.
During the height of the Presidential Campaign of 1988, the Pledge of Allegiance was first recited on the floor of the House of Representatives on September 13, 1988. The House Speaker ruled that from that day forward, the Pledge would be recited at the start of each business day of the House. Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina recited the Pledge for the first time on the Senate floor on June 24, 1999. The Senate unanimously adopted its resolution to recite the Pledge on the same day the House had voted to adopt an unsuccessful Amendment to the Constitution to ban flag desecration.
Two men of the Youth’s Companion magazine deserve much of the credit for creating today’s flag and Pledge of Allegiance patriotism in the USA—James Upham, manager of the magazine’s Premium Department, and Francis Bellamy, assistant to Daniel Ford, owner and editor of the magazine.
In the 1880’s, Upham, using his marketing skills, began his campaign to sell flags to the public schools—first for the flagpole out in front of the school and later for a flag in every classroom. Using promotions in the Youth’s Companion magazine and the incentives of flag premiums to interest the students and teachers in supporting his flag campaign, he urged school boards, educational leaders, and the heads of the Chicago’s World’s Fair to support his flag campaign which was tied in with his 1892 Public School Columbus Day Celebration.
Upham and Bellamy, at the Youth’s Companion, both urged teachers to organize their students for the Columbus Day Public School Celebration. Students were urged to mobilize their teachers. Upham secured the approval of the World’s Congress Auxiliary in the Columbian Exposition to permit the Youth’s Companion to lead the celebration.
Using his advertising and public relations skills and his extensive knowledge of American history and philosophical principles, Francis Bellamy wrote a verbal flag salute, the Pledge of Allegiance, which expressed two basic American principles; “liberty” and “justice for all”. As a good advertising man, he also avoided another basic but controversial principle—“equality for all.”
Francis Bellamy wrote a Pledge based on his understanding of the principles on which the Constitution is made. Bellamy was very familiar with America’s tradition and history. For example, in 1906, he published his book, “President’s of the United States from Jefferson to Fillmore.”
Bellamy knew the history of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He was very familiar with the ideas of Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, and Madison. Bellamy personally believed in the basic principles of “equality, liberty, and justice for all” citizens. He knew that in 1892 white male Americans were upset with the controversial issue of equal rights for women, slaves, blacks, Indians, etc., who were not considered “citizens.” As an advertising man, who wished to please his customers, he left the word “equality,” out of his Pledge. As a Baptist minister, he also purposely left out the word, “God.” The Founding Fathers preferred the word, “providence.”
Bellamy’s original Pledge was, “I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” The words, “my flag,” gave the Pledge an international overtone because the citizens of any republic could recite it. The American Legion, in 1923, led the effort to get rid of this international overtone by dropping the words, “my flag,” and replacing it with the words, “the flag of the United States of America.”
Bellamy wanted the concept of “equality” in his Pledge but, in 1892, the USA was a segregated and sexist country. Bellamy believed strongly in social, political, and economic equality. He believed that extreme individualism and unregulated liberty had harmed the disadvantaged in American society.
The Pledge is a normative statement, not a factual statement. Unfortunately, the Pledge is often accepted as a factual statement. In 1892, the USA did not have “liberty and justice for all”—justice for women took until the 1920’s and the 1960s for blacks. Americans usually assume that the “justice” is what they see on TV—jury trial type drama. This type of law is less than 5% of justice in the USA. Americans are poorly informed about the operations of various courts of law—district courts, circuit courts, state courts, and federal courts. Some may have experienced a traffic court or a drug-treatment court.
Most Americans don’t know what laws are obeyed and what are not obeyed. They are dimly aware of the standards, and rules of the federal, state, and local governments for particular types of situations, e.g., juvenile law, military law, and procedural law. They have not read their county and municipal ordinances and codes. Some may be unfamiliar with codes of law, e.g., codes of federal rules and regulations. Others may be familiar with tax codes, the Code of Military Justice, or the regulations of agencies.
A system of injustice and segregation was common in the South into the 1960’s. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “It was a great relief to be in a federal court. Here the atmosphere of justice prevailed. No one can understand the feeling that comes to a Southern Negro on entering a federal court unless he sees with his own eyes and feels with his own soul the sabotage of justice in the city and state courts of the South”.
Upham and Bellamy were in contact with the leading American intellectual of their day—William Torrey Harris. Harris (1833–1909) was the most widely known public school educator and philosopher in the USA in the late 19th Century. He served as US Commissioner of Education from 1889 to 1906. In the 1880s, he was the Superintendent of Schools in Concord, Massachusetts, where he also assisted Bronson Alcott with his Concord School of Philosophy. Harris was the editor of the Hegelian magazine, Journal of Speculative Philosophy. While is St. Louis, he worked to extend public high school education, to expand the curricula, and to incorporate a kindergarten into the public school system. He led efforts to incorporate art, music, science, and manual arts into the public school system.
With the aid of William Torrey Harris, who was a leader of the National Education Association (NBA), Bellamy met with state Superintendents of Education at the 1892 NBA National Convention. Harris’ backing of Upham’s and Bellamy’s public school celebration assured the NEA’s unanimous endorsement. The Association lent its name as sponsor of the celebration, appointed the state Superintendents of Public Instruction as a General Committee to lead the movement in their states, and named an Executive Committee to be in charge of the Columbus Day Public School Celebration. This Committee picked Bellamy as its Chairman and as contact man with the Youth’s Companion Magazine. The magazine and Bellamy had the responsibility for overseeing and financing the campaign.
William Harris had contacts with the leading American intellectuals in the 1890’s. He was a mentor of John Dewey and published Dewey’s early philosophical articles in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy. Harris was for decades in the vanguard of American development in philosophy. Harris wrote the definitive, “A. Bronson Alcott, His Life and Philosophy” in two volumes, published in 1893. Alcott was a neighbor and best friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson and also the father of the authoress, Louisa May Alcott.
Some of the leading American thinkers met each summer with Harris at the Glenmore School of Culture Sciences near Keene, New York, in the Adirondack Park. This Park is the largest state park in the USA. It is larger than Yellowstone Park. It is a unique combination of public wilderness land and trails intertwining with private lands.
The Glenmore School of Culture Sciences was a philosopher’s summer camp. The 1892 summer Prospectus lists the speakers. Harris spoke on “The Philosophy of A. Bronson Alcott, Ralph W. Emerson, and the New Transcendentalist.” John Dewey spoke on “Tendencies in English Thought During the 19th Century”. Ibn Ali Saleiman spoke on “The Quoran” and the “Development of Islam.” William James lectured on miscellaneous topics.
Some of the leading American thinkers met here each summer with Harris. In the 1890’s, William James was a frequent speaker at the camp. Harris and Dewey were probably the two most influential figures in applied education in the United States in the first half of the 20th Century.
The two patriotic organizations that deserve much of the credit for the central role of the Pledge of Allegiance in American patriotic culture are probably the American Legion and the Knights of Columbus. The Veterans of Foreign Wars deserve much of the credit for making the Star-Spangled Banner the National Anthem. Apparently, no organization or Congressman has proposed putting the third democratic principle in the Pledge—“equality for all.”
The American Legion, starting in the 1920s, initiated most of the legislation in the states to require the public school students to recite the Pledge. It also fought in the courts’ effort to excuse students from reciting the Pledge. Through the years, the Legion has also pressured many federal, state, and local legislative bodies into reciting the Pledge at the beginning of their business.
“Under God” was added to the Pledge in June, 1954. One reason for this addition was the Brown versus Board of Education decision by the US Supreme Court in May, 1954 ending segregation in the public schools. Many of those, who opposed integration, felt that the integration movement was inspired by atheistic Communists and their allies.
The man to first initiate the addition of “under God” to the Pledge was Louis A. Bowman (1872–1959). He spent his adult life first in Chicago and then in its suburb, Oak Park. His occupation was as a trust officer and lawyer for the largest Chicago Banks, including the LaSalle Bank. During World War I, he was active in the American Protective League, a volunteer organization under the aegis of the United States Justice Department and the War Department that rooted out United States residents and immigrants in the Chicago area suspected of espionage, sabotage, or disloyalty to the United States. He was very active in the Presbyterian Church and the Young Man’s Christian Association.
He served 11 years as Chaplain of the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. At a meeting on February 12, 1948, Lincoln’s Birthday, he led the Society in reciting the Pledge with two words added, “under God.” He stated that the words came from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (not as originally written but added during Lincoln’s recitation). He avoided the major point that Lincoln was making in his Address that the United States was “a new nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
Bowman believed in segregated school systems. In 1954, he made the following statement about the Brown versus Board of Education decision of the US Supreme Court:
“The United States Supreme Court has rendered an opinion creating chaos throughout the nation…the anti-segregationist opinion of 1954 cannot stand permanently… A non-segregation opinion cannot be enforced on a national level.
“A word of caution to all citizens…Paul’s great statement ‘God hath made of one blood all nations of the earth’ as authority for favoring no segregation. That is erroneous, for the last half of that same verse says ‘and hath determined the boundaries of their abodes.’ It was never God’s design to have them mingle on an equally social basis other than in their common blood creation. Many Negroes prefer segregation. Do not deny them this right. Give them every proper courtesy, full justice, and all reasonable opportunities for education and employment at adequate compensation but in harmony with God’s clear intention. Keep them separate.”
The political leaders of the South also felt the same way about the 1954 US Supreme Court Decision about Brown versus the Board of Education. They believed that the integration movement was led by Communist sympathizers.
In the 1950s, the National Security Council and the United States Department of Defense, in cooperation with some religious groups, strove to incorporate a belief in God and a religious faith into the official tenants of American patriotism.’ The USA was in a “Cold War” with the “atheistic Communism” of the Soviet Union and Communist China.
The Defense Department wished to motivate its military personnel to be willing to sacrifice their lives for their country. The Department also wished to motivate the general public to be willing to participate in a nuclear war, if necessary, for their country. The Department of Defense believed that if the military and the general public had a strong religious faith and were loyal to God and Country, the citizens would be willing to risk their lives in nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Over the decades, the US Department of Defense has promoted many patriotic programs for the general public, such as the recent “Support Our Troops” campaign.
President Eisenhower, working closely with Reverend Billy Graham and other Protestant religious leaders, supported the Defense Department in these patriotic campaigns. One of the most popular public measures during his administration was the two-word addition to the Pledge of “under God” that symbolically institutionalized an American civil-military–religion as part of the nation’s domestic and international policies. He said, “In this way, we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way, we shall constantly strengthened those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace or in war.” Eisenhower said, “Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first, the most basic expression of Americanism. Without God, there could be no American form of government nor an American Way of Life.”
President Eisenhower had not been a church member until after he was elected President. Eisenhower was not interested in fighting segregation. He had supported a segregated Army during World War II and opposed President Truman’s integration of the armed forces in 1948.
In the 1950s, the National Security Council began its rise to power as a major foreign policy decisionmaking organization. A top secret document, NSC–68, spelled out the plans for fighting and winning the Cold War. Part of this plan was for a civil–military–religious indoctrination campaign that could help build public morale, patriotism, and religious faith, which would enable the public and armed forces to fight and survive a nuclear war. This plan, in the 1950s, was NSC–68, a secret document that argued that the federal government should create an American will through spiritual mobilization of the American people by emphasizing its “Christian democratic heritage.” In the armed forces, the Chaplain Corps helped with its Character Guidance Program.
The spiritual regeneration of the American people by the armed forces began with a campaign to organize a professional military chaplaincy. The US Chapel Corps became an integral component of the Cold War defense establishment. This paved the way for the infusion of evangelical Christianity into military character education and to improve the national character by a strong religious component. National security required a determined, courageous, and religious American people willing to engage in nuclear warfare with the atheistic Communist governments of the Soviet Union and China.
One private group, working closely with the Defense Department on this spiritual and religious revival campaign, was the Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge, founded by several advertising men. This foundation educated the public about the dangers of Communism and called on the nation to go back to its “Christian heritage.” The American Heritage Foundation, Reverend Billy Graham, and other groups soon joined in this effort.
The Fourth Degree, the highest order of the Knights of Columbus, was the nation’s leader of the campaign to add “under God” to the Pledge in 1954. John Swift, the Supreme Knight, vigorously promoted an anti-secularist and anti-Communist program. His movement for the addition of “under God” to the Pledge originated in April, 1951 when the Supreme Board of Directors of the Fourth Degree adopted a resolution that “under God” be recited at the Fourth Degree Assemblies. The Supreme Council of 1952 passed a resolution urging Congress to amend the Pledge.
John E. Swift, Supreme Knight between 1945 and 1953, and Luke Hart, Supreme Leader between 1953 and 1964, were diligent workers and loyal sons of the Roman Catholic Church. Swift, for example, was an Officer of the Pontifical Court of Pope Pius XII in Vatican City and also Secret Chamberlain of Cape and Sword to His Holiness, Pope Pius XII.
The Knights have the commendation of the entire Roman Catholic Church Hierarchy and have received special commendations from the Popes. The Knights are organized with Four Degrees and four objectives. The First Degree objective is Charity; the Second Degree is Unity: the Third Degree is Fraternity; and the Fourth Degree is the fostering of Patriotism—a religious patriotism.
Pope Pius XII was strongly anti-Communist. Pius XII, Christ’s Vicar for the Roman Catholic Church from 1938 to 1957, strongly supported church efforts in America and Europe to make the public more aware of the threat of atheistic Communism and the dangers of secularism and Socialism.
He had been criticized for not condemning the atrocities of Hitler and Mussolini and their anti-Semitism before and during World War II. He had strongly opposed Communism. To fight Communism was to be on the side of Christ. In a crusade against the Communist Eastern block, he strove to warn the world against the dangers of Communism. He believed he had the historic mission of leader against atheistic Communism. In Italy, he unsuccessfully tried to get the Italian government to outlaw the Communist Party.
On the religious front, he made the proclamation of the dogma of the Assumption (1950) and made use of his infallibility powers to proclaim the Marian Year of 1954. In 1954, he told his close associates that Christ had appeared at dawn at his bedside. Saint Mary, the Mother of God, is the patron saint of the United States. Catholic University of America, in Washington, DC, is the papal university in the USA, where the papal flag flies along side the American flag.
The Congressman, who successfully lead the campaign in the US Congress to add “under God” to the Pledge in 1954, was Congressman Louis Rabaut of the Detroit area. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and was a deeply religious Roman Catholic. His belief in God permeated his whole life and found expression in his family—three daughters became nuns and a son became a priest.
Francis Scott Key (1780–1843) wrote the Star-Spangled Banner in September 1814, while on a British warship that was shelling Fort McHenry at the entrance to Baltimore harbor. He wrote his poem about the large American flag flying over the fort and about his country, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” He asked his countryman to take for their watchword, “In God is our trust.”
Earlier, in August 1814, he had been at the Battle of Bladensburg near Washington, DC. The American soldiers fled before the professional British troops on the battlefield, except for a US Navy unit of black sailors that stood and fought. At this battle, the US Army was not the “Home of the brave.” Black soldiers were not permitted in the US Army until the Civil War.
At the battle at Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor, the Army performed well and repulsed the British Army and fleet. The famous large, American flag, flying over the Fort, was made by Mrs. Mary Pickersgill, seamstress, her daughter, and her slave(s). Maryland was a slave state until 1865. Maryland was a segregated state in many ways until the 1960s.
Key was a slaveholder but he felt uncomfortable with the slave system. He, like some other Americans, felt that the answer to slavery was to ship the African-Americans back to Africa. Key’s supported expatriation proposals to ship the Negroes to the Liberia area in Africa. He did not support “equality for all.”
Before the Civil War, a major political and social issue was the question of what to do with the slaves and freed slave. The abolitionists demanded immediate emancipation and equal rights for the Negroes. Most white Americans, especially in the South, opposed such a solution. For slaveholders, free black people in their communities constituted a dangerous anomaly. For slaveholders, free black people constituted a threat to the social order. Like Thomas Jefferson, most white Americans believed that blacks and whites could not live together in harmony if the free blacks and slaves had equal rights as themselves.
Key, like many Americans, linked black freedom to black migration to Africa in any discussion of individual manumission and emancipation. Key, a lawyer, fought in the courts for the limited legal rights of free and slave African-Americans. He represented them in court but had difficulty winning even the minimum justice available for free blacks and slaves in the courts of the slave states and the District of Columbia.
Key was a leader in the American Colonization Society. The Society believed that the emancipation of the Negro slaves should be followed by their removal from the United States and return to Africa. Though the northern states were in the process of abolishing slavery in their states by 1817, the northern Negroes did not have equal rights with the whites there. The slaveholders wanted the removal of the American free Negro because they were a disturbing influence on the slaves, even if unintentional. This expatriation would reduce the problem of slave control and thus made the slave property of the slave owners more secure form slave insurrection.
In 1776, slavery was spread across the colonies. One in five Americans was enslaved at the time of the Revolution. Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery. Alexander Hamilton fought it in New York State. By the early 1800’s, all of the northern states had embarked on the road to end slavery. Both the northern and southern slave owners often argued that economic necessity, private property rights, and the Bible itself justified slavery. In 1865, the Constitutional Amendment to end slavery in the United States passed by just two votes in Congress.
The abolitionists viewed slavery as a moral evil demanding immediate emancipation and advocated equal rights for the blacks. Most white Americans, especially in the South, opposed this. Some of them feared free blacks. Like Jefferson, they believed that blacks and whites could not live together in harmony if the blacks were freed. A middle position was Key’s and the American Colonization Society’s position that the individual manumission should be followed by the shipping of the blacks, both free and slaves, to Africa.
The American Colonization Society emerged in 1816 as a national organization dedicated to promoting the manumission of slaves and the settlement of the already freed blacks in West Africa, especially Liberia. The original founders and leaders in this movement were Charles Fenton Mercer, Francis Scott Key, Henry Clay, and Daniel Webster.
The society did not aim at the education of the Negro slaves, which was against the law in most slave states. The society would not interfere with the system of slavery. They did not like slavery but also felt that the African-American was unfit for American citizenship. Since the slave states, over the years, had outlawed education for the blacks and denied them most rights of citizenship and justice in the courts, the blacks were unaccustomed to freedom. During the early days of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln hoped the colonization program War political strategy. Before he pushed for freeing the slaves, he pushed expatriation schemes similar to that of the American Colonization Society. Lincoln, for the first two years of the Civil War, peddled emancipation connected with expatriation schemes to hold the loyal border slave states.
Perhaps, the average southern white male held the stringent racial position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Roger Taney. Taney was Key’s friend and his brother-in-law. In the famous US Supreme Court Dred Scott decision of 185 7, Taney and his court decided that slaves could not be precluded from the territories of the Union. Negroes, when freed, could not become citizens of the US. He presented the position that slaves were property like other kinds of property and could be moved about the country as desired and bought and sold. Northern states were required legally to capture and return any fugitive slaves found there. The Civil War was fought partly to reverse Taney’s court decision.
Taney believed that the Negro race belonged to an inferior order and were unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations. He believed that Negroes were so far inferior to the white race that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect. The Negro could be reduced to slavery for the slave’s benefit.
Taney believed that slaves could be bought and sold and treated as ordinary articles of merchandise. Negroes could not have equal rights with the white race and could not become citizens of the United States. The Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.
For over a half a century after the Civil War, many former Confederates disliked the American flag as the flag of the enemy—the Union Army. Many southerners loved the Confederate flag. They disliked Key’s National Anthem because it was dedicated to the Stars and Stripes. Over the century, several songs had been suggested for the national anthem. One favorite was “America the Beautiful.” John Philip Sousa, who had been head of the US Marine Corps Band from 1880 to 1892, composed The Stars and Stripes Forever.
In the early 1890s, the Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic urged his followers to rise at the beginning of The Star-Spangled Banner. In 1904, President Roosevelt ordered the work played by all Navy bands at morning and evening flag raising and lowering ceremonies. The Star-Spangled Banner would not become the National Anthem until 1931.
In 1918, the Maryland Congressman, John Linthicum first introduced a Bill making the Star-Spangled Banner the National Anthem. Mrs. Reuben Ross Holloway of Baltimore, a member of the Society of the War of 1812, urged him to do so and assisted him in gathering public support for this Bill. But there was opposition to the Banner as the National Anthem.
In 1903, he began his political career in the Maryland legislature, first as a Delegate then as a State Senator, representing Baltimore. In 1910, he was a successful Democratic candidate for the US House of Representatives, representing the Fourth District there without interruption until his death in 1932.
John Charles Linthicum, usually known as Charles Linthicum, was born on November 25, 1867, in one of the Linthicum farmhouses named “Turkey Hill.” His father was a large landowner and farmer with property in the Linthicum area and also on the north side of the Patapsco River in Baltimore County. On this large farm, Linthicum grew up as a boy.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars, in its official history, “The VFW, Our First Century,” states that the VFW was responsible for making the Star-Spangled Banner the National Anthem. The “VFW waged a determined campaign to make the Star-Spangled Banner the official National Anthem. On January 11, 1930, officials presented petitions to the House Judiciary Committee—bearing more than 5 million signatures—urging passage of the measure. The Bill was enacted in March, 1931.” Walter I. Joyce, Director of the VFW’s National Americanization Committee, led the crusade.
“Joyce energetically pursued his goal of securing an overwhelming number of Petition signatures with which to bombard Congress. Posts and women Auxiliaries pitched in. Pacifist groups objected to its alleged ‘militaristic tone.’”
On January 30, 1930, representatives of more than 60 patriotic organizations gathered in Washington to press for another version of the Bill introduced by Maryland Representative Charles Linthicum. The Bill went before the House Judiciary Committee the next day where Joyce presented his 5 million signatures and endorsements from other organizations representing another 154 million citizens, including the signatures of 26 Governors. The Bill came out of Committee by a vote of 16 to 2, but stalled on the floor of the House because of the objections of a Representative from Mississippi.
The Bill passed the House on April 21, 1930, and was sent to the Senate Library Committee. On March 31, 1930, the Bill passed unanimously in the Senate and President Herbert Hoover signed the Bill the following morning.
The adoption of the Star-Spangled Banner as the National Anthem was commemorated in Baltimore on the afternoon of June 14, 1931, Flag Day, with special ceremonies marking Flag Day and the adoption by Congress of the Banner as the National Anthem on March 4, 1931.
The exercises were held at the west end of Memorial Plaza and the procession marched down the steps of the War Memorial and across the plaza. In the marching line were Union, Confederate, Spanish–American War, and WWI veterans, members of patriotic organizations, and the Boy Scouts.
The ceremonies, sponsored by the Maryland chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of 1812, began at 2:30pm with a concert by the 12th Infantry Band at a War Memorial downtown. There a procession was formed to march to the plaza.
Fifteen members of the Grand Army of the Republic and their Commanders, who assembled at the War Memorial, and about 40 women members of their Auxiliary, refused to march in the procession when it was announced the Confederate flag, carried by a Boy Scout, would lead the column with the Stars and Stripes and the Maryland flag.
John T. Holmes, Adjutant–General of the Maryland Encampment of GAR, said he attended the services with his comrades, and that the Union soldiers had planned to march, but when Captain George T. Leech, Commander of the Maryland Encampment, reported on the Confederate flag, he ordered his comrades to break ranks. The women followed the example of the men.
General John R. King, Past National Commander of the GAR, did not attend the ceremonies for he had written to a Colonel Harry C. Jones a week earlier, informing him that the flag of the Confederacy had no place in a Flag Day ceremony. Jones was master of ceremonies at the exercises.
“That flag,” King said, “represents the attempted destruction of the Stars and Stripes. It has no place in that line…. It’s the Daughters of the Confederacy, who are always scratching open the wound. We don’t want any controversy; we’re too old for that.”
In April 1861, state patriotism was so strong in South Carolina that its troops fired on the American flag flying over Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, SC. Eleven southern slave states left the Union, but Maryland, a border slave state, remained loyal to the Union. Many Maryland citizens believed that the other southern states should be permitted to leave the Union, but the majority of Marylanders also wanted Maryland to remain in the Union. However, Maryland is proud of its Civil War history. It has a large statue of Chief Justice Roger Taney placed in front of its Capitol Building in Annapolis, during the 1870’s. A gigantic equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson was placed in Baltimore in about 1947.
Maryland probably has the most elaborate form of state patriotism in the nation. Maryland is probably the nation’s leading state in fashioning local, state, and national patriotism out of the ingredients of heraldry, segregation, and American history.
Maryland is the only one of our 50 states having a Seal and a State flag based upon armorial design. Maryland adopted the Seal of its Lord Baltimore in 1876. The Reverse consists of an escutcheon bearing the Calvert and Crossland arms quartered. The escutcheon is supported on one side by a farmer and on the other by a fisherman. The Obverse of the Seal shows Lord Baltimore as a Knight in full armor mounted on a charger.
The Maryland flag bears the arms of the Calvert and Crossland families. Calvert was the family name of the Lords Baltimore, who founded Maryland. Crossland was the family of the mother of the first Lord Baltimore. The flag design was officially adopted in 1904. The gold cross bottony affixed to the top of the flagstaff was made the official ornament in 1945.
The Maryland state flag bears the arms of this Calvert family, colonial proprietors of Maryland. Maryland is the only one of the fifty states that has made the arms and seal of its colonial lord its official state flag and seal.
The cross on top of the Maryland flag pole is in honor of Maryland’s British Lord Baltimore’s Catholic religion and the Free State’s famous “Religious Toleration Act” of 1649. The Act’s first paragraph states “any reproachful speeches, words or language concerning the Holy Trinity shall be punished with death.” The second paragraph states that “anyone who utters any reproachful words or speeches concerning the twelve disciples” shall be expelled from Maryland. Fortunately for the lives of the Free State’s Christians, the remainder of the Act states that no Christian sect will be persecuted because of its kind of Christian religion.
Many Marylanders think that the term “Free State” was coined in honor of its religious freedoms. Actually, it was coined by Hamilton Owens, a former editor of the Baltimore Evening Sun. He coined the phrase, “Maryland Free State,” on April 4, 1923, as a title for an editorial praising Maryland’s plantation aristocracy. The editorial quoted an antebellum authority who said that the Maryland plantation aristocrats were the kindest slave masters in the USA, if not the world.
“Slaves, far from rendering them (their masters) more proud and hardened against the miseries of humanity, tend only to make them more compassionate towards those of their fellow creatures whose destiny is in the manner attached to theirs…Maryland is perhaps the only country in the world where slaves feel least the hardships of bondage.”
Although Maryland gave the nation its national anthem, its official state song, “Maryland, My Maryland,” advocates the overthrow of the federal government. The first verse urges Marylanders to join aristocratic Virginia and oppose the federal government (“the despot’s heel”) and to attack the federal troops who “flecked the streets of Baltimore” with the blood of about a dozen Confederate rioters in April, 1861. The ninth and last official verse urges Marylanders “to spurn the Northern Scum,” presumably New Englanders and other people who were supporting the federal government in the Civil War against the aristocratic South.
The Maryland State Song, “Maryland, My Maryland,” was written by James Ryder Randall while at Pointe-Coupee, Louisiana, on April 23, 1861. Randall was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1839, and spent most of his life in Augusta, Georgia. The air is not original and is taken from “Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum.” The words reflect the bitter feelings of the Confederate poet over the passage of Union troops through Baltimore on April 19, 1861. The verses became the official state song in 1939.
The despot’s heel is on thy shore,
Maryland! (My Maryland)
His torch is at they temple floor,
Maryland! (My Maryland)
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland! My Maryland!
I hear the distant thunder-hum,
Maryland! (My Maryland)
The Old Line’s bugle, fife, and drum,
Maryland! (My Maryland)
She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb
Huzza! She spurns the Northern scum!
She breathes! She burns!
She’ll come! She’ll come!
Maryland! My Maryland!
Maryland gave the nation its National Anthem—The Star-Spangled Banner. Maryland also unsuccessfully offered the nation a substitute for the Pledge of Allegiance—the “American Creed,” which probably better reflects the goals of the USA than does the Pledge.
In the 1920’s, the Sons of the American Revolution in Maryland challenged the use of the Pledge of Allegiance with their own patriotic oath, the “American Creed,” written by William Tyler Page. This Creed did include the concept of equality. Maryland public school children recited it during the 1920’s and 1930’s.
William Tyler Page, born in Frederick, MD, lived in Friendship Heights, MD, near Washington, DC. He was the Clerk of the US House of Representatives from 1919 to 1942. He wrote the Creed in about 1917. It goes as follows:
“I believe in the United States of America as a Government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; democracy in a republic, a sovereign nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes. I, therefore, believe it is my duty to my country to love it; to support its Constitution; to obey its laws; to respect its flag; and to defend it against all enemies.”
The state has required the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools since 1918. The House of Delegates in the Maryland Legislature began reciting the Pledge in 1994. The Maryland Senate does not recite the Pledge.
Religion is and has been a popular theme in the state patriotism. “God” is mentioned in the Preamble to the Maryland Constitution and in several other parts of its Constitution. Two statues recently placed at the north entrance to the Maryland State Government Complex in Annapolis have religious themes. One is a statue of Louis Goldstein and the statue gives a prominent position to his favorite statement—“God bless you all real good.” Louis Goldstein was a Maryland Senate Majority Leader and President in the 1950’s and the Comptroller of the Treasury 1959–1998.
In 2006, a memorial statue was built for the firefighters and paramedics who lost their lives in the line of duty, the “Maryland Fire Rescue Service Memorial” for the “Fallen Heroes.” The statue shows firefighters and emergency medical service personnel ascending a staircase to heaven while a mother prays at its base. A keystone with a bronze bagpipe at its base signifies the threshold of the spiritual world.
Today, the flag is at the center of American patriotic ritual, supported by the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem. The flag is essential for the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of The Star-Spangled Banner. How and when did America’s patriotic ritual become centered on a flag ritual?
In 1787, the Founding Fathers of the US Constitution set up a secular, federated, constitutional, representative republic and 200 years later, it also has become a democratic republic. This secular government provided no role in the government for the clergy but it was not anti-religious. The government was to be kept separate from any and all religions.
The early patriotism in this republic revolved around the praise of this new secular government and praise of the genius and patriotism of the Founding Fathers—George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. Over the centuries, American patriotism has become an elaborate flag ritual revolving around a verbal flag salute, the Pledge of Allegiance, and a song: the Star-Spangled Banner.
This flag patriotism evolved partly out of the need of the American society in the 19th Century to avoid the concept of “equality” for women and blacks. This concept of “equality” was a major concept in the Declaration of Independence. The concept of political equality became controversial and embarrassing in a patriotic ritual for a republic whose citizens were mainly only white males until 1920. The concepts of social and economic equality were too radical to be seriously considered by these white males.
The official American patriotic ritual needed to accommodate not only the practice of segregation found in most parts of the country, it also had to accommodate the military spirit of the hereditary societies and the veterans’ groups. Since 1950, it has accommodated the religious piety of our times and replaced the deist sentiments of the Founding Fathers.
Maryland has led the states in creating state and national patriotism. The state patriotism of Maryland, like the patriotism in the United States, was highly influenced by the hereditary societies, the military orders, by segregationists’ sentiments, and religion. Historically, most American patriotic rituals involved speakers giving speeches on the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the lives, virtues, and principles of the Founding Fathers. Religious leaders were rare among the Founding Fathers. For 100 years, an American patriotic ritual did not involve a Pledge of Allegiance, a National Anthem, or more than one flag on display.
Two men of The Youth’s Companion magazine deserved much of the credit for creating today’s flag patriotism in the USA—James Upham, manager of the magazine’s Premium Department, and Francis Bellamy, assistant to Daniel Ford, owner and editor of the magazine. In the 1880’s and 1890’s, Upham had an aggressive campaign to sell flags to the public schools—first for a flag and flag pole out in front of the school and secondly, for a flag in the classroom. Through his influence as part owner of the Youth’s Companion, he persuaded the public school system and its leaders and the heads of the Chicago World’s Fair to support his Public School Columbus Day Celebration centered around the flag. The Pledge of Allegiance’s lasting strength came from the genius of Francis Bellamy. He knew that the major principles of American democracy were “equality, liberty, and justice for all.” He was also an advertising man, who knew that the segregated school systems of his time would not tolerate the word, “equality,” in a verbal flag salute. He purposely kept the word, “equality,” out of the Pledge, although he was very much aware of the concept of political, social, and economic equality. Even today, no group or Congressman has suggested the addition of the word, “equality,” to the Pledge. (For more information on the economic and philosophical concepts of “equality,” see Baer’s article, “Edward Bellamy’s Concept of Economic Equality—Practical or Utopian?” in Revisiting the Legacy to Edward Bellamy, Mellon Press.)
“Under God” was placed in the Pledge, in 1954, mainly by the Knights of Columbus and the Roman Catholic Church, various Protestantchurches, groups associated with the US Department of Defense, and segregationists who believed that integration was being promoted by atheistic Communists.
The US Department of Defense, the National Security Council, and many other groups believed that the USA could win and survive a nuclear war and resulting nuclear holocaust in a war with the atheist Soviet Union Communists if the armed forces and American people had a strong religious faith.
The two patriotic organizations that deserve much of the credit for the central role of the Pledge in the culture are the American Legion and the Knights of Columbus. Both organizations, like Congress itself, have also avoided pressing for the third principle, “equality for all.”
The American Legion initiated most of the legislation in the states that requires the public school students to recite the Pledge. The Legion has also pressured the federal, state, and local legislative bodies to recite the Pledge at the beginning of business.
The Knights of Columbus added the two words, “under God,” to the Pledge in 1954.These two words hit a pious chord in the hearts of the public and the US Congress. Apparently, neither Bellamy nor the Founding Fathers felt a need to incorporate the word, “God,” into their Constitution or laws and this lack was corrected by the Knights.
Today, the central piece in the American patriotic ritual is this 1954 version of the Pledge of Allegiance. In 2006, the House of Representative passed legislation to limit the power of the federal courts to change the wording of the Pledge, especially by deleting the words, “under God.” Supporters argued that the “under God” phrase, added to the Pledge in 1954, was intrinsic to the nation’s heritage and traditions and must be shielded from unelected judges. “This is an issue that clearly resonates to what we are about as a country,” said House Republican Whip, Congressman Blunt.
The House of Representatives has decided that a verbal flag salute, designed for children, written by a Socialist liberal in 1892, modified by the American Legion in 1923, and the Knights of Columbus in 1954, states the essence of American democracy. Congress feels that this civil prayer should be protected from the decisions of the federal courts, which were set up by the Founding Fathers to check the power of Congress and the President. This Pledge has become the centerpiece of American patriotic ritual.
“Under God” and Other Questions and Answers About the Pledge
This Chapter gives answers to commonly asked questions about the Pledge of Allegiance. The Pledge has been controversial throughout its history. Today, it is probably more central to American patriotism than is the National Anthem, the Declaration of Independence, or the US Constitution.
What would have been the opinions of Reverend Francis Bellamy, the author of the Pledge, and James Madison, Father of the US Constitution, about the June 26, 2002, 9th US Circuit Court ruling (Michael Newdow v. US Congress) that the words, “under God,” added to the Pledge in 1954 and recited in most public schools, are in violation of the First Amendment? What organizations lead the effort to place “under God” in the Pledge?
Reverend Francis Bellamy (1855–1931) probably would be happy with this decision. When Bellamy wrote the Pledge in August, 1892, he never considered placing the words, “under God,” in his original version of the Pledge of Allegiance. In 1954, David Bellamy, his son, sent a message to Congress, politely stating that his father would not like this addition by Congress. His granddaughter and great-granddaughter have made similar statements.
Bellamy had used the words, “Divine Providence” and “Divine care,” in writing the July, 1892 Columbus Day Proclamation for President Benjamin Harrison. When he was writing his Pledge in August, 1892, he also was aware of the Balch flag salute for the New York City public schools and that this Pledge included the words, “to God and our Country.”
Bellamy wrote the draft of the Columbus Day Proclamation for President Benjamin Harrison in July, 1892. He used the words, “Divine Providence” and “Divine care,” in this statement: “Let the National Flag float over every school house in the country, and the exercises be such as shall impress upon our youth the patriotic duties of American citizenship. In the churches and in the other places of assembly of the people, let there be expressions of gratitude to Divine Providence for the devout faith of the Discoverer, and the Divine care and guidance which has directed our history and so abundantly blessed our people.”
When Bellamy wrote his Pledge in August, 1892, he was well aware of the Balch Pledge. In 1892, George T. Balch was the most influential person in the development of a patriotic flag ritual for the classroom. He was a New York City auditor and had developed a patriotic verbal flag salute and ritual—the first verbal flag salute used in American public schools. The students in his New York Public Schools gave his “American Patriotic Salute” as follows: Students touched first their foreheads, then their hearts, reciting, “We give our Heads and our Hearts to God and our Country.” Then with a right arm outstretched and palms down in the direction of the flag, they completed the salute “One Country! One Language! One Flag!”
Why did Bellamy not include the word, “God,” in his new flag salute when he had used this concept in writing the Presidential Proclamation and was familiar with the Balch salute? Bellamy was a northern Baptist and a Free Mason; both groups promoted the separation of church and state and opposed tax supported parochial schools. The Free Masons, in Europe and occasionally in the USA, had battled the Roman Catholic Church for over a century over these issues. The Papacy was a religious State in Italy from about 800 to 1870 AD. The present Vatican City State was part of this government.
Francis Bellamy was probably a Christian deist. He did not believe in the virgin birth, the resurrection, or the ascension of Jesus. He stopped attending church during his retirement in Florida. His father, Reverend David Bellamy, was more orthodox. In 1847, David Bellamy founded the Calvary Baptist Church now located at 123 West 57th Street, in New York City. Next door is its New York Bible School.
The northern Baptists believe in freedom of religion, freedom for religion, and freedom from religions. They believe that the separation of Church and State is healthy both for the Church and the State. They believe in the priesthood of all believers and the freedom of every person to relate directly to God without the imposition of any creed by the government.
James Madison (1751–1836), the “Father of the US Constitution” and the first ten Amendments, was on the style committee that wrote the final draft of the Constitution. There was no mention of “God” in the wording of the Constitution. The Constitutional Convention of 1787, where Madison was the intellectual leader, did not have formal prayers or religious sermons at its sessions. Yet, Madison was well trained in Christian theology. As a young man, he had trained for the Presbyterian ministry. Why did Madison oppose any reference to the official use of “God” in the Constitution and its Bill of Rights?
Madison believed strongly in the principle of separation of Church and State. Madison had a long history of fighting for separation of Church and State. He opposed the laws in colonial Virginia that authorized governmental officials to arrest Baptist ministers for the “crime of heresy.” In the 1780s, in the Virginia House of Delegates, he led the opposition to Patrick Henry and others seeking to reestablish the Episcopal Church as the official state church in Virginia. (See Christianity and the Constitution by John Eidsmore.)
In the colonial period and during the American Revolution, many Episcopalian ministers took an oath of allegiance to the King of England—the official head of the Episcopalian Church at the time.
Patrick Henry sought a compromise with Madison by which the Virginia taxpayers would support the “Christian church, denomination or communion of Christians.” Madison defeated it. Henry then tried to pass a law that Virginia would support “teachers of the Christian religion”—again defeated by Madison. In 1787, Madison helped design a US Constitution that would support religious and secular diversity in a secular, constitutional, federated, representative democratic republic.
Madison was probably a Christian deist. Deist subordinated the Bible and revelations to reason and the scientific method in discovering the nature of God. Many deist also were critical of many priest and protestant ministers, who the deist thought often had a vested interest in maintaining mystery, ignorance, and superstition.
George Washington (1732–1799), the “Father of his country,” apparently concurred with Madison’s reasoning. He was President of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 (May 25–Sept. 17, 1787) and chaired its meetings. He apparently never protested the lack of the word, “God,” in the US Constitution or the lack of public prayers at its sessions. He referred rarely to “God” or “Jesus” in his writings but preferred the word, “Providence.”
Yet, Washington was a deist who was very religious. Washington’s Farewell Address to the people of the United States said in 1796: “Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports…. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
Alexander Hamilton, who was Washington’s Secretary of the US Treasury and his military aid during the American Revolution, wrote much of this speech. Hamilton was also a Christian deist.
Washington believed strongly in the separation of Church and State. In an address to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, he said: “It is now no more that tolerance is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgenced of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they, who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens…”
Both Washington and Madison apparently had concurred with the original national motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” selected by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams. Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin were deists. “E Pluribus Unum,” was a quote from Saint Augustine’s Confessions, Book Four.
In 1956, Congress replaced this national motto with “In God We Trust.” This motto was suggested by a Protestant minister during the Civil War. It was placed first on a two-cent coin, in about 1865. Today, both mottos are on our coins, but only “In God We Trust” is on our paper currency.
In the late 1950s and 1960s several Congressmen proposed an Amendment to the Constitution that stated that the USA was a “Christian nation.” This Amendment apparently failed to pass the House and Senate and was never added to the Constitution. If it had passed, the USA might have become a “Christian Republic of the USA,” not unlike the “Islamic Republic of Iran.”
In a 1955 Affidavit before a Notary Public of Cook County, Illinois, Louis A. Bowman (1872–1959) officially claimed to be the first person to initiate the practice of reciting “under God” in the Pledge. He was a member of the Board of Governors of the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American and served as its Chaplin. He lived in Oak Park—a suburb of Chicago.
On Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12, 1948, at a meeting of the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, he lead them in repeating the Pledge with the added two words, “under God,” after “one nation.” The National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution and its Chicago Chapter gave him an Award of Merit as the originator of this idea.
Bowman explained to the Society that in adding the words, “under God,” they were following the precedent established by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address. At the end of this Address, Lincoln said, “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that, government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” (Lincoln inserted the words, “under God,” extemporaneously, for they do not appear in his written draft.)
Bowman also repeated this revised Pledge at several other meetings of the Society. At one 1952 meeting of his SAR, a member, John F. McKillip, was inspired to write to his former employer and editor-in-chief of the Hearst Newspapers, William R. Hearst, Jr, about this new change. The Hearst Newspapers began a campaign that eventually helped result in the “under God” legislation, which was adopted by the US House and Senate, in 1954, and signed by President Eisenhower on Flag Day, 1954.
Bowman repeated his revised Pledge on other occasions, as a guest speaker, at a Chicago post of the American Legion in 1952 and at a YMCA dedication in 1953. Meanwhile, in April 1951, the Knights of Columbus began a campaign for the Pledge to be amended by Congress to include the words, “under God.” The Hearst Newspapers and the American Legion joined this campaign.
In this successful campaign, the Knights of Columbus worked closely with Representative Louis Rabout—a democratic congressman from the Detroit area. He was a longtime member of the House Appropriations Committee. He was a devout Roman Catholic. One of his sons became a Jesuit priest and two of his daughters became Catholic nuns.
The Knights of Columbus was founded in 1882, by Father Michael McGivney, in New Haven, Connecticut. (He probably will be canonized as a Roman Catholic saint in the next 10 or 20 years.) Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus, as a fraternal order for Roman Catholic men. It provided family insurance and meeting halls around the nation for its members.
In 1900, the Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus was formed. This “higher order” was founded to do good works, help the Roman Catholic Church, and to promote American patriotism. The Knights of Columbus has worked closely with the Holy See in the Vatican over the last century.
In the 1950s, the Fourth Degree believed that a patriotic American should be a person of religious faith and one who opposed communism, socialism, secularism, deism, agnosticism, and atheism. In the 1950’s, the Knights opposed communism in Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Vietnam. It supported Senator Joseph McCarthy is his early campaign against communist subversion in the United States. Senator McCarthy was a member of the Knights.
In April 1951, its Board of Directors adopted a resolution mandating that “under God” be added in the recitation of the Pledge by each of the 750 Fourth Degree assemblies. In 1952, its Supreme Council passed a resolution, urging Congress to add the words, “under God,” to the Pledge.
Many other groups joined in the campaign. One was the Washington Pilgrimage group (now known as the Religious Heritage of America group)—a patriotic–religious group founded in 1951—began promoting this addition. In 1952, the Reverend Dr. George M. Docherty, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC, preached in favor of adding “under God” to the Pledge. His point was that a Soviet atheist could easily recite the Pledge without compunction by substituting the “Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics” for the “United States.”
In 1953, Rep. Louis Rabaut from Michigan received a letter from H. Joseph Mahoney, Brooklyn, NY, suggesting this addition. Rabaut’s 1953 House Bill eventually was passed. Senator Homer Ferguson of Michigan filed a Senate Bill that was passed by Congress. President Eisenhower signed the Bill on Flag Day, June 14, 1954. (President Eisenhower was baptized in the Presbyterian Church in Washington in 1953.)
In 1955, Rabout arranged for Congress to publish and distribute over 100,000 copies of a musical version of the Pledge. The music and lyrics were written by Irving Caesar, a union leader and a friend of George Gershwin. Gershwin and Caesar wrote the music and lyrics for Swanee, made famous by Al Jolson.
Eisenhower’s 1952 election campaign, which was against the liberal Adlai Stevenson, had the character of a moral crusade and a religious revival. Baptist minister, Billy Graham, worked closely with “Ike.” He gave Eisenhower a Scofield Bible, thus assuring the public that this President would not be reading a liberal interpretation of the scripture. Patriotism and piety combined to serve as an ideological weapon against atheistic Communism during his two terms in office, 1953–1961.
Eisenhower understood the importance of a President’s symbolic duties as the nation’s spiritual leader. Within the American civil religion, the President functions as a high priest in much the same way as the Jewish priesthood did in the Old Testament. During his administration, the Eisenhower–Graham alliance included giving Graham office space in the White House and the State Department giving Graham briefings after each of Graham’s international Christian crusades. (See Lori Bogles, The Pentagon Battle for the American Mind.)
One of the most popular measures during Eisenhower’s administration was his addition to the Pledge of the two words, “under God”. These two words incorporated the American civil religion into the nation’s domestic and international policies. After signing the legislation into law on June 14, 1954, Eisenhower stated that, “From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our Nation and our people to the Almighty.”
After signing the “under God” addition in the Pledge resolution on June 14th, 1954, Eisenhower participated in an air raid drill to help prepare the American people for the possibility of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. On June 15th, 1954, Eisenhower authorized the CIA to overthrow the Socialist government in Guatemala.
Luke Hart, who was the Knight’s “Supreme Knight” from 1953 to 1962, was its leader during the 1950’s. He lead the Knight’s efforts to add “under God” to the Pledge in 1954 in order to make the Pledge a religious statement. In 1948, he had a major role in starting the Knight’s Catholic Advertising program and a Religious Information Bureau to explain Catholic beliefs to the nation.
He had a major role in leading the fraternal order in its opposition to Communist doctrine. In the early 1950’s, the Knights supported the controversial Senator Joseph McCarthy in his efforts to ferret out Communists in the United States government. McCarthy was a member of the Knights of Columbus.
Hart also was a leader in the Order’s insurance company. It loaned millions of dollars to Catholic parishes and projects. During the 1950’s, this company also invested millions of dollars into secular projects, including a major investment in the Yankee Stadium property.
Pope John Paul II called the Knights of Columbus the “strong right arm of the Church”. The Knights headquarters is in New Haven, Connecticut, and it had almost a million members in the 1950’s. Throughout its history, the Knights have supported the Catholic Church. (See Christopher Kauffman’s Patriotism and Fraternalism in the Knight’s of Columbus—A History of the Fourth Degree.)
From its beginning, the Knights have supported and promoted the religious, political, educational, and social welfare programs of the Catholic Church. In 1882 Father Michael McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus as a fraternal benefit society of Roman Catholic men in Waterbury Connecticut. He created a Catholic fraternal order and lodge for Roman Catholic men and a life insurance company for their families. (Father McGivney may be canonized a Roman Catholic Saint within the next 10 years.)
The Knights have four Degrees. The Third Degree Knights are the source of the members for the Fourth Degree. The Fourth Degree was initiated in 1899 to promote a Catholic form of patriotism in the USA, and to counteract the bigotry among patriotic Protestants against Catholics. In 1899, many Americans thought of the native Roman Catholics as “un-American” and the Vatican as a “conspiratorial foreign power” The Knights promoted a new patriotic image for Catholics by pointed out the Catholic’s role in the founding of America – Columbus in 1492, the early Spanish settlements in Florida, etc.
The Knights opposed the US military interventions in Catholic countries during and after the Spanish–American War of 1898. During this war, the USA defeated the Catholic country of Spain and occupied the Catholic countries of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. In the next 30 years, the USA would occupy, for varying lengths of time, parts of the Catholic countries of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Nicaragua, and Mexico.
The Knights’ political “Catholic Action” efforts have included helping the Vatican in its political and social efforts throughout the world. In the 1920s, the Knights began helping the Vatican with its social work projects in Rome, Italy. In the 1950’s, the Knights promoted US policies that helped limit the persecution of Roman Catholics in Communist countries in Eastern Europe and Indo–China. The Knights also urged US cooperation with Catholic countries around the world, including Franco’s Spain.
Many Knights believe that public law should reflect Church Canon Law and the ethical and moral position papers of the present Pope and previous Popes. Many Knights believe that the Pope is Christ’s vicar on earth.
Congress officially added the phrase “under God” to the Pledge in order to differentiate the religious republic of the United States from the atheistic Soviet Union’s republics. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ propaganda stated that the USSR, unlike the United States, had “EQUALITY, liberty, and justice for all” races and ethnic groups in the Soviet Republics. In the 1950s, the USSR continually pointed out to the world that government enforced racial segregation was common throughout the USA.
In 1892, Francis Bellamy deliberately had left the word, “equality,” out of the Pledge in order to avoid the public school segregation problem. He wrote the Pledge for a committee of the National Education Association. In 1892, the NEA supported racial and sexual segregation. In 1954, the USA racial segregation patters were similar to that found in 1892.
In May 1954, one month before “under God” was added to the Pledge, the US Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education ruled against segregated public schools. Most southern Congressmen opposed this court decision. Many segregationists believed that Communists and Communist sympathizers were leading the integration movement. They believed that “race mixing” was against the Bible and would lead to interracial marriages. School desegregation was seen as the first major step in this direction. (See Danielle Allen’s Talking to Strangers.)
By adding “under God” to the Pledge, many Congressmen hoped to give school children and the public not only a revised Pledge that would oppose Communism but also one that would lessen the rising racial tensions over school segregation. Segregation threatened to divide the country’s white citizenry on the topic of race and “racial equality.”
In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She was arrested by Montgomery police for refusing to obey bus segregation seating laws. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., in response to Parks’ protest, lead a 381-day boycott against the Montgomery Bus Line. King was soon leading other nonviolent demonstrations in acts of civil disobedience against state and local segregation laws and practices. School desegregation was part of this battle. The Pledge played only a small role in this racial conflict.
President Bush, John Ashcroft, the Attorney General, and nearly all of the members of the US House of Representatives (started reciting the Pledge in 1988) and the Senate (started reciting the Pledge in 1999) disagreed with the US 9th Circuit Court Judge Alfred T. Goodwin’s 2002 ruling that Congress’ addition of the words, “under God,” to the Pledge was in violation of the First Amendment. In 2003, the Attorney Generals of the 50 states also asked the US Supreme Court to reverse this US 9th District Court decision. A Supreme Court hearing was on March 24, 2004. On June 14, 2004, Flag Day, the Supreme Court overturned the US 9th Circuit Court’s decision.
One legal issue involved in this controversy over the addition of “under God” to the Pledge is whether or not a large majority of the population, through their State Legislatures and Congress, may mandate the exact wording of a specific patriotic ritual (the Pledge) for the students and teachers in our public schools, when a minority of the citizens do not like its wording and/or ritual. The apparent issue is whether or not the Pledge is a state mandated “public prayer” for the public schools.
The citizens of the USA are people of many different religions and also some of no faith. When we say “people of every faith,” we mean Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhist, Hindus, Baha’i, Unitarian–Universalists, etc., and also people of no religious faith. Perhaps, about 80 or 70 percent of the American population like “under God” in the Pledge and perhaps 20 or 30 percent do not like it there. Many of the people who do not like it are people of no religious faith.
A Scripps/Ohio State University study of 1990 found that those declaring no religious preference were 11 percent of respondents. California has the highest concentration of the non-religious of any state—15 percent. About 81 percent of US adults identified with a religion, but only 54 percent said that someone in their household belonged to a church, synagogue, or other house of worship. A recent survey, of the new American Religious Identification Survey, released by the City University of New York, reported that 14 percent of respondents were atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, or showed no religious affiliation. (ARIS 2001)
The major role of the Flag in American culture is unique among nations. The USA is the only country to have an elaborate flag patriotism culture. It has a Flag Day, a Flag Code etiquette, a national anthem dedicated to its flag, and a verbal flag salute to the flag—the Pledge of Allegiance. Some nations have some of these practices but none have all of them. Very few nations have a verbal flag salute like the Pledge.
Today, Americans have chosen to make much of the flag of the US as an important part of our symbolic environment. The flag stands outside or inside our schools, our federal, state or local government buildings, our parks, our homes, and our automobiles. We acknowledge it ritually before a wide range of athletic, cultural, and social events—at athletic games, band concerts, federal state and local government councils, fraternal and youth group meetings, school and university ceremonies, etc.
Historically, the Flag was seen, on a regular basis, only at military bases and on ships. Locally, the flag was flown normally only on national holidays, such as July 4th. After the 1890s, the flag became common in the classroom. Today, the flag is seen everywhere. Many elected and appointed federal officials now commonly wear the flag as a pin on their lapel or blouse. The flag and its “Star Spangled Banner” National Anthem and the verbal flag salute—the Pledge of Allegiance—are at the center of American patriotism.
Some experts argue that the Flag and its Pledge patriotism ritual are part of a larger culture of symbols and values known as a “civil religion.” A “civil religion” is a set of beliefs, symbols, and attitudes that explain the values, goals, and mission of a nation, its government, and its people in terms of their faith in God. A “civil religion” can help unite a nation divided by controversy, ethnicity, gender, race, class, politics, regionalism, religion, etc. (See Scot M. Guenter’s, The American Flag.)
For school children and many other citizens, the flag and the Pledge have come to represent America. The Pledge of Allegiance expressed this in a public ritual. The use of the pledge ritual evokes feelings of nationalism, patriotism, and loyalty to God and Country. This Pledge patriotism culture is incorporated in state and federal laws.
The US Supreme Court has made two historical decisions about the laws of the states involving mandated pledge rituals in the public school. In a June 3, 1940, Minersville School District v. Gobitis decision, it ruled that a local school board could expel students who refused to recite the Pledge. Over the next two years, a wave of anti-Jehovah’s Witnesses hysteria developed because the members of this religious group refused to recite the Pledge. For example, in Kennebunk, Maine, the local citizens sacked and burned a Jehovah’s Witness Hall. The Jehovah’s Witnesses believed that saluting the Flag and reciting the Pledge were forbidden by the Bible (see Chapter 20 in Exodus).
In 1943, the Supreme Court reversed this ruling in the West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnette decision. It said that State Departments of Education and local school boards could mandate the form of patriotism in the classroom but could not require the students to recite the Pledge.
Perhaps, a related issue is whether or not public school teachers should be required to recite the Pledge. President Bush’s father, President George Herbert Walker Bush, stated that he disagreed with Governor Michael Dukakis’ unsuccessful veto of a Massachusetts 1980’s law that fined teachers five dollars a day for not reciting the Pledge. Bush said, “Should public school teachers be required to lead our children in the Pledge of Allegiance?…My opponent says ‘no’ – but I say ‘yes.’” This Massachusetts law apparently is still in effect.
An interesting pledge “curiosity” is that Arkansas, Georgia, and Texas have adopted laws for pledges of allegiance to their state flags. These state pledges, even though they are similar in wording to the national Pledge, do not include the words, “under God.” For example, the “Salute to the Texas Flag” goes as follows: “Honor the Texas Flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one and indivisible.”
The original words and accompanying ritual of the Pledge of Allegiance was presented in the September 8th, 1892 issue of The Youth’s Companion—a popular weekly magazine published in Boston.
Its September 8th issue had the following announcement: “When the Superintendents of Education, last February, accepted The Companion’s plan for this national Public School celebration, they instructed their Executive Committee to prepare an Official Programme of exercises for the day, uniform for every school….Let every pupil and friend of the Schools who reads The Companion, at once, present personally the following Programme to the Teachers, Superintendents, School Boards, and Newspapers in the towns and cities in which they reside.”
This “Official Programme” for the “National Columbus Day Public Schools Celebration of October 21, 1892” was a complete patriotic program for the nation’s public schools’ celebration. Francis J. Bellamy prepared its two-page “Official Programme”:
1. Reading of the President’s Proclamation by the Master of Ceremonies…
2. Raising of the Flag by the Veterans…
3. Salute to the Flag by the Pupils:
“At a signal from the Principal, the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another order is given; every pupil gives the Flag the military salute—right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with forehead close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly: ‘I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one Nation, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.’ At the words, ‘to my flag,’ the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, towards the Flag, and remains in this gesture until the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side. Then, still standing as the instruments strike a chord, all will sing ‘America’—‘My Country, ’tis of Thee.’”
4. Acknowledgement of God. Prayer or Scripture.
The First National Flag Conference, held in Washington, June 14–15, 1923, which was attended by 80 delegates from patriotic societies, fraternal orders, civic bodies, and other organizations, modified the Pledge to read: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
The Second National Flag Conference, held in Washington on Flag Day, June 14, 1924, further modified the Pledge to read as follows: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of American and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
On June 22, 1942, the US Congress officially approved the 1924 version of the Pledge and added it to the US Flag Code. In December 1942, Congress substituted the present ritual of the right hand over the heart in place of the original straight right arm salute. Congress apparently was embarrassed by the similarity between the original Flag salute and the Nazi salute.
The US Congress and the President officially added “under God” to the Pledge on Flag Day, June 14, 1954. This version goes as follows, “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.”
Three minor variations were considered:
1. “One nation under God,”
2. “One nation, under God,” and
3. “One nation indivisible under God.”
Congress accepted the Library of Congress’ recommendation of variation #1. The Library gave the following reason for its recommendation: “Since the basic idea is a Nation founded on a belief in God, there would seem to be no reason for the comma after nation.”
Probably most people recite the Pledge as if it has a comma after “One Nation,” as shown in the #2 variation considered in 1954. The National Education Association apparently advises teachers to use the “correct” #1 variation and to oppose the use of the #2 variation in the classroom. The absence or presence of this comma is noticeable when a class or other group attempts to recite the Pledge in unison. No organization apparently is interested in promoting the #3 variation of the Pledge.
Francis Bellamy, the author of the Pledge, was a Christian Socialist, who believed that Jesus was a socialist. What is “socialism?” What is a “Christian Socialist?” Was Jesus a “socialist?”
“Socialism” is usually defined as “government ownership and control of the means of production” (the means of production are often defined as “land, labor, capital, and entrepreneurship”). Many people broaden this definition to include “government redistribution of income and/or wealth.” This government redistribution usually involves the transfer of income and/or wealth from affluent citizens to lower income citizens, but sometimes involves the transfer of income and/or wealth from the lower income citizens to the affluent citizens.
Francis Bellamy thought that Jesus was a socialist based on the “social gospel” found in Jesus’ and James’ statements, quoted in the New Testament Books of Mark and James. Mark 10:23 says, “How hard it will be for rich people to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were shocked at these words, but Jesus went on to say, “My children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God! It is much harder for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of the needle.”
James 5:1 says: “And now you rich people, listen to me. Weep and wail over the miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches have rotted away, and your clothes have been eaten by moths. Your gold and your silver covered with rust, and this rust will be a witness against you and will eat up your flesh like fire. You have piled up riches in these last days. You have not paid any wages to the men who work in your fields. Listen to their complaints! The cries of those, who gather in your crops have reached the ears of the God, the Lord Almighty. Your life here on earth had been full of luxury and pleasure. You have made yourselves fat for the day of slaughter.”
The term “Christian Socialism” apparently was coined by J.F.D. Maurice, in England, in 1848. Maurice, Charles Kingsley, and other British Christians argued that the essence of Christianity was brotherhood. They criticized the laissez-faire economic doctrine of no government interference in the economy. They criticized the rich who paid wages barely sufficient to keep their workmen alive and used human beings as a means to selfish ends. They saw the economy as people working together, not a collection of competing individuals. They believed that the principle of justice, not of selfishness and greed, should govern economic life.
In April 1889, largely under the influence of Edward Bellamy and his Nationalist Movement, WDP. Bliss, Francis Bellamy, and other church ministers, living mainly in Boston and the Northeast, formed the Society of Christian Socialists. Its constitution emphasized the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, and God’s stewardship of all property. It criticized the industrial and commercial economic system in the USA as too individualistic, unjust, and contrary to the law of God. It recommended Socialism as the economy for Christians and unsuccessfully invited all Christians and their churches to join the Christian Socialist Reform Movement (see WD.P. Bliss’ Encyclopedia of Social Reform).
Bellamy’s mentor and owner–editor of The Youth’s Companion magazine, Daniel Sharp Ford, also was a believer in the social gospel, but he did not believe that a Christian should work for the goal of a socialist economy. Like the founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley, Ford believed that a businessman should support charity, philanthropy, and social justice in the economy.
Following the social gospel, the wealthy Ford gave away most of his wealth. His philanthropy is still supporting good works in Boston—the social work of the Baptist Social Union located in the Tremont Temple Baptist Church, the sometimes controversial monthly lectures at the Ford Hall Forum at North Eastern University, and the operations of his former church, the Ruggles Street Baptist Church in Boston, Massachusetts.
In Matthew 22:21, Jesus says, “Render, therefore, unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” This is hardly a clear recommendation for a socialist economy in which the federal, state, and local governments would own the means of production. It might be a recommendation for a “mixed economy” in which government, private institutions, and individuals cooperate in running the economy. Jesus probably thought redistribution of income and wealth should take place mainly through the family, the community, the church, and philanthropy.
A few people argue that Jesus and his apostles were “primitive communists” who believed that a Christian should follow the communist motto of “from each according to his ability and to each according to his need.” The Christians would be like brothers and sisters to each other, sharing some meals, housing, and other expenses, and helping others in need. Over the past decades, most communist governments of the world claimed to be following this motto; in practice, they were usually tyrannical governments dominated by dictators.
Is there any organization, museum, or library dedicated to the history of the Pledge of Allegiance or the life of its author, Francis J. Bellamy? Where did Bellamy live and work during his lifetime?
There is no organization, museum, or library dedicated to the history of the Pledge or the life of its author, Francis Bellamy. However, Bellamy left some of his papers to the library of the University of Rochester, in Rochester, NY. The Rome Historical Society, in Rome, NY, has a collection of articles about Bellamy. Louise Harris donated to the Brown University Library in Providence, RI, a collection of miscellaneous materials about the history of the Pledge and The Youth’s Companion magazine and its owners, Daniel Sharp Ford and James Upham.
The museum and library of the Edward Bellamy Memorial Association, in Chicopee, MA, has genealogical material on the Bellamy ancestry of Edward Bellamy and Francis Bellamy, but little information about the Pledge and Francis Bellamy. Edward Bellamy (1850–1898) was a first cousin and close friend of Francis Bellamy (1855–1931). Their fathers were Baptist ministers.
Below is an estimated chronology of his residence and places of business, 1855–1931:
• May 18, 1855: Born on Main Street in Mount Morris, NY. Marker.
• 1855–1859: Childhood in Mount Morris, NY
• 1859–1872: Childhood and Youth in Rome, NY. Several markers for he and his father, Rev. David Bellamy in the downtown area.
• 1872–1876: Student at the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY.
• 1876–1879: Student at the Rochester Theological Seminary, Rochester, NY.
• 1880–1885: Baptist Minister in the Baptist Church in Little Falls, NY. Lived in parish house next to the church.
• June 1, 1881: Married Harriet Benton of Newark, NY.
• 1885–1891: Bellamy worked and lived in the Roxbury section of Boston.
• 1885–1888: Baptist Minister at Dearborn Street Baptist Church in Roxbury section of Boston.
• 1881–1891: Baptist Minister at new church building, Bethany Baptist Church, in Roxbury. Lived on Alaska Street in Roxbury.
• 1891–1896: Assistant to Daniel Sharp Ford, editor/owner of The Youth’s Companion magazine. The magazine’s headquarters was located on Columbus Ave. and Berkley Street on the edge of Roxbury. The Pledge was first published here in its September 8, 1892 edition. Today, this attractive building is called the “Pledge of Allegiance Building” and has a historical marker.
• 1891–1896: Bellamy and his family lived on Griffin Avenue, now 35 Lakewood Road, near Crystal Lake in Newton, MA. His wife built this house in 1891 and they considered it their favorite house and community.
• 1896: He resigned from The Youth’s Companion in 1896 and worked for four months for the Ladies Home Journal in Philadelphia, PA. His residence is unknown. His family remained in Newton, MA
• 1896–1923: Bellamy worked in downtown Manhattan, New York City. Most of this time he and his family lived in Harlem in Manhattan. Sometime during this period, his son, John Benton, born in 1882, attended Yonkers High School and his son, David, born in 1888, attended DeWitt Clinton High School.
• 1896–1898: Editor of Illustrated American located on East 23rd Street and in 1898 on Broadway in New York City. Residence unknown.
• 1902: Freelance reporter for New York Sun newspaper.
• 1902–1904: Insurance salesman with offices on Park Row Street for Equitable Life Assurance Society.
• 1903–1911: Residence at 795 St. Nicholas Avenue at 150th Street in Harlem.
• 1904–1915: Advertising Space Salesman for Everybody’s Magazine located on East 17th Street and then on Spring Street.
• 1911–1921: Residence at 435 Convent Avenue at 149th Street in Harlem.
• 1915–1923: Advertising executive with Erickson Advertising Agency, located on 4th Avenue.
• Nov. 2, 1918: His wife, Harriet dies.
• Dec. 1920: Marries Marie Morin Caissi, popular designer of women’s “chapeaux.” They lived on Central Park West
• 1924–1931: Retired to Tampa, FL with his wife. Built a house at 2926 Wallcraft Street.
• 1926–1931: Advertising Manager for Tampa Electric Co.
• Died August 28, 1931: He is buried in the Rome Cemetery, Rome, NY. Marker.
Allen, Danielle S. Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.
Bellamy, Edward. Revisiting the Legacy of Edward Bellamy (1850–1898), American Author and Social Reformer: Uncollected and Unpublished Writings: Scholarly Perspectives for a New Millennium. Edited by Toby Widdicombe and Herman S. Preiser. Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2002.
Bogle, Lori Lyn. The Pentagon’s Battle for the American Mind and tile Early Cold War. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University, 2004.
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Guenter, Scot M. The American Flag, 1777–1924: Cultural Shifts from Creation to Codification. Rutherford, NJ: Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 1990.
Harris, Louise. The Flag Over the Schoolhouse. Providence, RI: C.A. Stephens Collection, Brown University, 1971.
Kauffman, Christopher J. Patriotism and Fraternalism in the Knight’s of Columbus: A History of the Fourth Degree. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Co., 2001.
Martin, William. With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America. New York: Broadway Books, 1996.
Miller, Margarette S. Twenty-Three Words. Portsmouth, VA: Printcraft Press, 1976.
O’Leary, Cecilia Elizabeth. To Die For: The Paradox of American Patriotism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999.
Dr. John Bear’s scholarship on the Pledge of Allegiance is second to none. The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth's Companion on September 8, 1892. The history completed by Dr. Baer dives deep into the characters circumstances, and controversies surrounding the Pledge, from first inception to the present day.