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Origins

The Pledge of Allegiance is not a verse composed by the Founding Fathers of our republic. It was written especially for children in the summer is 1892 to commemorate that year’s celebration of Columbus Day in public schools through out the country.

The pledge first appeared in print on September 8, 1892, in The Youth’s Companion, an educational publication. In its original form, it read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which is stands—one nation indivisible—with liberty and justice for all.” Its author was Francis Bellamy, an assistant editor of The Youth’s Companion, who intended it for a one-time recitation. But its immediate popularity transformed it first into an annual Columbus Day tradition and then into a daily classroom ritual. It became one of the earliest verses memorized by students.

Since its debut, Bellamy’s pledge has undergone two major alterations. In 1923, the National Flag Conference of the American Legion replaced the somewhat ambiguously personal “my Flag” wording with the more explicitly patriotic “the Flag of the United States of America.” And in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill that added the words “Under God.”

Charles Panati, Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things (Harper Collins), quoted in Reader’s Digest.