The “Pledge of Allegiance” was born 125 years ago, when it appeared in a magazine article in 1892 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s voyage to America, said Professor of Education and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Charles Dorn.
In an op-ed in Fortune magazine, published to coincide with the pledge’s anniversary September 8, Dorn described the author of the pledge, Francis Bellamy, as “an odd choice for the job. An outspoken supporter of workingmen’s rights, Bellamy was vice president of Boston’s Society of Christian Socialists.”
The late nineteenth century saw a dramatic increase in US immigration, explained Dorn, and one of Bellamy’s objectives was to “inculcate newcomers with American ideals and values.” Since the US had no official loyalty pledge at the time, Bellamy decided to write his own. Following the pledge’s publication, which was in a magazine called The Youth’s Companion, “school boards around the country began compelling student recitation as part of a morning flag salute.”
New York became the first state to legally require the morning pledge in its public schools, said Dorn, and by 1917, when America entered World War One, “pledging allegiance to the flag became a fixture of public education in America.” Read Dorn’s piece, “How a Socialist Ended Up Writing the Pledge of Allegiance,” in Fortune.