This Day in History
The First Pledge of Allegiance

Pledge of Allegiance Published in Youth’s Companion
September 8, 1892

In 1892, Youth’s Companion magazine started a national program to advance patriotism through display of the flag over every American schoolhouse. Working with educators, the magazine organized a National Public School Celebration of the 400th Anniversary of Columbus’ first voyage to the New World, coinciding with the great Columbian Exposition being held at Chicago. Francis Bellamy, a former Baptist minister and editor of Youth’s Companion, wrote the Pledge of Allegiance and it was published by the magazine on September 8, 1892, at Boston. On October 21, 1892, school children recited the pledge following a special proclamation by President Benjamin Harrison. Then known as “The Youth’s Companion Pledge,” it was said that simultaneously that day twelve million children recited it in schools throughout the then forty-four states. Encouraged by patriotic fervor, it quickly became a standard fixture of the school day throughout the country, truly “a child’s morning greeting to Old Glory,” accompanied by a great variety of salutes. Nearly two decades after twenty patriotic organizations met in 1923 to formulate a Flag Code, Congress in December, 1942, adopted the U.S. Flag Code which made the Pledge of Allegiance official and provided for citizens to place their hands over their heart during its recitation. On June 14, 1954, the words “under God” were added, signed into law by President Eisenhower. It has remained unchanged since. It is always given voluntarily; to require it would violate our basic rights, including freedom of religion and speech, guaranteed by the Bill of Rights for which the Flag itself stands.

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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.