Francis Bellamy

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Francis Julius Bellamy was an author, editor, and publicity director born in Mount Morris, New York in 1855. He attended Rome Free Academy in Rome, NY, the University of Rochester (1872–1876) and the Rochester Theological Seminary (1876–1880).[1] He was an American Baptist minister (May 18, 1855 – August 28, 1931) and Christian Socialist[2] who wrote the original Pledge of Allegiance in 1892. It was published in the Youth's Companion, which was a nationally circulated magazine for adolescents, and by 1892 was the largest publication of any type in the United States, with a circulation around 500,000. His cousin Edward Bellamy is the noted author of the socialist utopian novels, Looking Backward (1888) and Equality (1897).


The Pledge

In 1891, Daniel Sharp Ford, the owner of the Youth's Companion, hired Bellamy to work with Ford's nephew James B. Upham in the magazine's premium department. In 1888, the Youth's Companion had begun a campaign to sell American flags to public schools as a premium to solicit subscriptions. For Upham and Bellamy, the flag promotion was more than merely a business move; under their influence, the Youth's Companion became a fervent supporter of the schoolhouse flag movement, which aimed to place a flag above every school in the nation. By 1892, the magazine had sold American flags to approximately 26,000 schools. By this time the market was slowing for flags, but was not yet saturated.

The previous year, Upham had the idea of using the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus reaching the Americas to further bolster the schoolhouse flag movement. The magazine called for a national Columbian Public School Celebration to coincide with the World's Columbian Exposition. A flag salute was to be part of the official program for the Columbus Day celebration to be held in schools all over America.

The Pledge was published in the September 8, 1892, issue of the magazine, and immediately put to use in the campaign. Bellamy went to speak to a national meeting of school superintendents to promote the celebration; the convention liked the idea and selected a committee of leading educators to implement the program, including the immediate past president of the National Education Association. Bellamy was selected as the chair. Having received the official blessing of educators, Bellamy's committee now had the task of spreading the word across the nation and of designing an official program for schools to follow on the day of national celebration. He structured the program around a flag raising ceremony and his pledge.

His original Pledge read as follows:

The recital was accompanied with a salute to the flag known as the Bellamy salute, described in detail by Bellamy. During World War II, the salute was replaced with a hand-over-heart gesture because the original form involved stretching the arm out towards the flag in a manner that resembled the later Nazi salute. (For a history of the pledge, see Pledge of Allegiance).

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