The Socialist, Nazi Pledge of Allegiance

Addicting Info points out something I have mentioned many times over the years with great amusement whenever the Super Patriots start blathering on about the pledge of allegiance: It was written by a socialist. And it was originally accompanied by a Nazi-style salute.

Specifically this concerns the author of the original Pledge of Allegiance and the original salute that was utilized by Americans to show reverence to a national symbol. The author, for those who don’t know, was a man by the name of Francis Bellamy, a Socialist and writer. Hired by the Youth’s Companion (a children’s magazine) Bellamy and one of the other employees became deeply involved in the “schoolhouse flag movement” which sought to distribute flags to every school in the United States. The eventual Pledge has undergone changes throughout the years but one of the most striking is the change that occurred in the method of popularly saluting the flag.

As the Youth’s Companion noted in 1892, the proper etiquette for saluting the flag was 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, toward the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side.

And yep, it looked just like a Nazi salute:


That’s why when people ask me why I don’t recite the pledge of allegiance — and I don’t, and won’t under any circumstances — I tell them that I refuse to pledge allegiance to Karl Marx and Adolf Hitler and I don’t know why they hate America so much that they would recite a socialist pledge to Nazism. I’m quite disappointed that Glenn Beck has yet to get out his blackboard and explain all of this. As much as he loves to play Six Degrees of Saul Alinsky/Karl Marx/Adolf Hitler, he can’t seem to recognize that connection — probably because he has Lee Greenwood turned up too loud.

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  • slc1

    Actually, that particular salute was a Roman salute first used AFAIK, by the Legions of the Roman Empire.

  • Abby Normal

    You can’t fool me. That’s the Arnold J. Rimmer salute. The photo was obviously taken just before the wrist flourish.

  • kantalope

    Romans? The guys who killed Jeezeus! This pledge just keeps getting worse and worse.

  • bbgunn

    kantalope @ #3:

    Thanks. I needed to flush my nasal cavities with coffee.

  • troll

    Ed, you know the only thing they’ll taking away from that is that socialists are Nazis, right?

  • brucegee1962

    Years ago I remember reading Looking Backwards, a socialist utopian novel written by a Bellamy. It turns out that was Edward Bellamy, the cousin of this guy. It’s one of the better utopian books, actually — a much nicer place to live than the neo-medievalism of William Morris’ News from Nowhere.

  • I figure your response was intended to provoke the conservative right wing, but I feel the need to provide some correct information.

    Bellamy was a social democrat, a proponent of the “social contract” philosophy which held that society and the individual should have a cooperative relationship rather than an antagonistic one. This is the kind of socialism that dominates the Scandinavian countries. Bellamy was also a fervent Christian and Baptist minister: his socialist views were drawn in large part from the social gospel message that was part of Second Great Awakening.

    In contrast, Marxism teaches class warfare and the overthrow of society (by violent means, if necessary) so that it can be reshaped by a vanguard party of ideologically pure fanatics. The philosophy that Marx proposed in Das Kapital strongly favored keeping farmers a subjugated class: his workers’ paradise was pretty much for factory workers only. These were ideas that Christian Socialists such as Bellamy strongly opposed, not to mention the fact that Marxism, then and now, was strongly antagonistic to religious beliefs. Bellamy worked closely with his more famous cousin, Edward Bellamy, in championing a society that combined both agrarian and labor interests, a view that Marx firmly rejected. To associate Francis Bellamy with Marxism is a slander.

    As for the Hitler comment…. Um, Hitler was 2 years old when the Pledge of Allegiance was written and published. As slc1 noted, it was based on an ancient Roman military salute. The original Bellamy Salute was replaced with the modern hand over heart in 1942, after the US had declared war on Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, who used similar salutes.

  • eamick

    There’s also the problem that Hitler was three years old when the pledge was created. Even he was not so precocious as to create a political party at that age.

  • kraut

    “In contrast, Marxism teaches class warfare and the overthrow of society (by violent means, if necessary) so that it can be reshaped by a vanguard party of ideologically pure fanatics.”

    Again, the clueless spouting nonsense. As per usual.

  • shockwaver

    I’d get in trouble occasionally growing up when I wouldn’t recite the pledge. At first I just dropped the God bit, but eventually I started to think the whole thing is creepy. Having a bunch of children recite a pledge for allegiance when they are too young to understand what that means – not to mention the cadence makes it sound like a chant for a cult. No one I grew up with ever seemed to agree with me though.

  • Larry

    I’ve never heard about the salute part. When was the ‘heil, hitler’ motion , with the graceful hand extension, dropped in favor of putting one’s right hand over where everybody believes their heart to be but actually isn’t?

  • doublereed

    I’d get in trouble occasionally growing up when I wouldn’t recite the pledge. At first I just dropped the God bit, but eventually I started to think the whole thing is creepy. Having a bunch of children recite a pledge for allegiance when they are too young to understand what that means – not to mention the cadence makes it sound like a chant for a cult. No one I grew up with ever seemed to agree with me though.

    Yea, I thought it was creepy too. Same kind of feeling I got from the Lord’s Prayer. I recited it though. Didn’t see it as a big deal when I was a kid.

  • shockwaver

    Yea, I thought it was creepy too. Same kind of feeling I got from the Lord’s Prayer. I recited it though. Didn’t see it as a big deal when I was a kid.

    I also thought the Lord’s Prayer was creepy. To my memory we weren’t forced to recite it every morning, but it did happen occasionally. I tried to understand how anyone in the USA, who to a person (the deep south) was pretty much anti-monarchy and that the US version of democracy was the end all be all could recite praises to a “Lord” and “King”. It made no sense to me.

  • @kraut #9 – I refer you to the Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and published (in German) in 1848. In chapter 1, they propose that civil war, often violent, is an inevitable result of the proletariat rising up. In chapter 2, they state that the immediate aim of the Communist Party is to overthrow the supremacy of the middle and upper classes (the bourgeoisie) and aid the proletarian (factory workers and tradesmen) to take absolute political control. At the end of Chapter 4… well, let me quote from Samuel Moore’s 1888 English translation, made in direct consultation with Engels himself:

    The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution.

    Other writings by Marx and Engels state a desire for peaceful revolution, but repeat frequently that a violent revolution is inevitable, and that socialists must be willing and able to meet violence with greater violence if they are to succeed in their revolution to end capitalism and reshape society into the socialist ideal.

    So, pray, how am I wrong?

  • To be fair, no one knew the Nazis were going to appropriate the Roman salute when Bellamy first concocted this idea and it was changed once the Roman salute became synonymous with the Nazis.

    But I’ve still thought the whole idea of the pledge is creepy, not to mention idolatrous. Why are they pledging to a flag, an inanimate object?

  • Scr… Archivist

    the military salute — right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it

    Doesn’t this start as the standard military salute, with your hand lifted next to your head and your thumb close to your eyebrow?

    Then when they extend their arm, the kids also flip their hands the other way, palm up, the same way models point at cars and furniture on game shows. Or is the arm not extended, just the hand flipped around, to make a kind of mock-Egyptian pose?

    If I’m wrong about this, would someone please explain what I’m missing?

  • Don Williams

    1) I’ve always wondered what the purpose of the salute was — is it to get a subordinate’s right arm in a

    defenseless position so you can sucker-punch him as a precursor to arrest for insubordination and or mutiny?

    same for the position of attention –easy to incapacitate a subordinate by sucker-punching him below the belt.

    2) Note also that other salutes also put one in a helpless position:

    a) Salute with a sword ends with sword held down and tip touching the ground–leaving saluter wide open

    to a thrust

    b) Firing a cannon means the cannon is now empty and ship is helpless until it is reloaded

    3) And if some of the subordinates do not render the salute then that identifies the troublemakers to

    the archers or snipers.

    4) Maybe with our ongoing slide into feudalism, the American salute will become the old peasant tugging of the


  • Don Williams

    And the interesting thing about the Roman salute is that the right hand is precluded from grasping or drawing the sword. Helpful gesture if you’ve dragged your men into deep shit but you need to inspect the ranks.

    Ole Julius Caesar seemed to have gotten careless in the Legions — and failed to note that Senators in

    the Senate House do not salute the consul.

  • Nick Gotts

    how am I wrong? – Gregory in Seattle

    1) In saying Marx and Engels wanted to keep farmers subordinate. The dictatorship of the proletariat was described only as a stage on the road to communism, a classless utopia in which people will not be bound to a single occupation.

    2) In attributing the concept of the vanguard party to Marx. It was introduced by Lenin. Marx thought the proletariat as a whole would become conscious of its historic role and seize power.

  • Just a note here about the “Roman Salute”. It has absolutely not historical basis at all, there isn’t a single representation of Roman soldiers saluting that uses anything that resembles the gesture. It apparently only dates back to late 18th century neoclassical artists.

  • jnorris

    I don’t say the Pledge because my citizenship and loyalty are not in question. By my understanding, the only people who need to say it are newly sworn-in citizens, and then, just that once.

  • @Nick Gotts #19 – You do not deny that Marxism is based on the need to overthrow society and reshape it entirely, by violent means if necessary. My point is that this is exactly what the pre-Marxist Christian Socialism espoused by Bellamy was not.

    Regarding farmers, Marx specifically focuses on the proletariat, the lower class of blue collar factory workers, None of his rhetoric about workers owning the means of production — the central precept of Marxism — applies to agricultural work. In fact, Marx saw a danger, in that improving the situation of the proletariat would push farm workers out of agriculture and into the factories, which would result in massive starvation and be catastrophic for society. He, and later Lenin, held the view that excluding farm workers from the socialist revolution was vitally necessary, at least in the short term until after the successful reshaping of global society could create a group of people willing to take up the (at the time) back-breaking labor of farm work for the collective good. Lenin went so far as to actually EXPAND the agricultural class — bound serfs in all but name — by excluding farm workers from the benefits of the Russian Revolution and sending political enemies to work on collective farms.

    Regarding the vanguard party, Lenin (and Trotsky, who was a close associate of Lenin before, during and soon after the Russian Revolution) were the architects of the first nation on the planet based on Marx’ ideology. They wrote the game plan on how to create a Marxist society, and that game plan holds that a close-knit group of highly motivated and ideologically pure people — the vanguard party — is vitally necessary to spearhead, incite and subsequently guide the socialist revolution. Trotsky went so far as to create the Fourth International to be a permanent, international vanguard party of militant activists, part of his idea of a permanent socialist revolution. Since the vast majority of organizations that identify as Marxist derive their ideology from either Lenin or Trotsky or both, and since the vast majority of organizations that identify as Marxist accept and use the idea of a vanguard party, it is reasonable to state that the vanguard party is a Marxist idea.

  • slc1

    Re Don Williams @ #17

    In many of the costume pictures of the 1950s (e.g. Ben Hur, The Robe, Quo Vadis), it is my recollection that the salute consisted of the right arm held across the chest parallel to the ground with the fist closed. Probably in reaction to the Nazis appropriating the raised arm with open fingers from the Romans.

  • slc1

    Re Gregory @ #22

    Actually, the economic systems that finally evolved in the former Soviet Union and its satellites was state capitalism, not Marxism. Just ask any Trotskyite from that era.

  • @slc1 #24 – It is my understanding that state capitalism was an innovation of Stalin. One of the few things that Marxists today agree with each other on is that Stalin was a Very Bad Man, and no one uses him as a source for their ideology.

  • Clarification: It is my understanding that the state capitalism of the Soviet Union was an innovation of Stalin. Earlier theorists, including Lenin and Trotsky, viewed it as either the last step towards the fulfillment of the socialist vision or as a degenerate “fall-back” of true socialism.

    None of which changes the points I was making: that most Marxists derive their ideology through Lenin and/or Trotsky, both of whom accepted the need for violent revolution and a vanguard party; that both Marx and Lenin (but not Trotsky) asserted a necessity to exclude agricultural workers from the proletariat; and that none of these views were compatible with the socialism held by Francis Bellamy.

  • gertzedek

    To be fair, that salute is one of many old, innocuous things ruined by the Nazis. It’s ancient, used by the Romans, among others, and originally served as proof that you didn’t have a hidden knife up your sleeve.

  • Nick Gotts

    You do not deny that Marxism is based on the need to overthrow society and reshape it entirely, by violent means if necessary. – Gregory in Seattle@22

    You asked where you were wrong; I told you. I repeat: Marx did not propose “keeping farmers a subjugated class”; and the vanguard party is specifically a Leninist idea, which many Marxists do not accept.

    Incidentally, Bellamy wasn’t such a paragon as all that. Here’s a quote from the wikipedia article on him:

    “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 by the infusion of their wholesome blood. But there are other races, which we cannot assimilate without lowering our racial standard, which we should be as sacred to us as the sanctity of our homes.”

  • Francis Bellamy was a former Baptist minister who preached that Jesus was a socialist and advocated income taxation, central banking, nationalized education, nationalization of industry, and other tenets of socialism. His challenge was how to replace the federalist view of the country (where states and individual rights were sovereign) with a nationalist one that would pave the foundation for a central socialist government. Re-education of the public would prove difficult. But if American youth could to be taught “loyalty to the state”, it would pave the way for the socialist utopia that was described in his famous socialist cousin Edward Bellamy’s book, ‘Looking Backward”.

    The place to start would need to be primary education. The public schools could be used teach blind obedience to the central state. The opportunity to write a children’s oath that would promote flag worship (and flag sales) was just what he needed to begin re-directing the citizenry’s loyalty. So it was that, in 1892, Bellamy came to write the original Pledge of Allegiance: A universal tool for inducing children to swear their loyalty to the concept of an American nation-state.

    The “one nation, indivisible” wording was especially important to Bellamy for achieving his vision of socialism through a consolidated, monopoly government. To drive home the socialist goals, he ended it with a call for “liberty and justice.” He had considered adding the other socialist bywords, “fraternity and equality,” but knew that state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans and would oppose it.

    A “National Public School Celebration” was promoted to government officials to coincide with the 400th anniversary celebration of Columbus. It was the first national propaganda campaign on behalf of the Pledge of Allegiance. It was a massive campaign that involved government schools and politicians throughout the country. To gain their cooperation, the program lauded government schools, while private schools, especially parochial ones, were criticized.

    Students were taught to recite the Pledge with their arms outstretched, palms down and then up. This was the custom in American public schools from the turn of the twentieth century until Hitler began using it to drill loyalty into his followers. The Nazis got it from the Italian fascists, who much admired – you guessed it – American schoolchildren who had been being indoctrinated with it for decades. Around 1950, public school officials suddenly decided that the salute was in bad taste and changed it to the familiar hand-over-heart salute.

  • Nice article. No one should stand for nor chant the Pledge of Allegiance because it was the origin of the Nazi salute and Nazi behavior (that is one of the amazing discoveries of the historian Dr. Rex Curry, as described by author Ian Tinny in the book “Pledge of Allegiance + Swastika Secrets”). The early pledge began with a military salute that was then extended outward to point at the flag (thus the stiff-arm gesture came from the pledge and from the military salute). The pledge was written in 1892 for kindergartners to be forced to recite under the flag at government schools (socialist schools). The pledge was written by an American socialist who influenced other socialists worldwide, including German socialists, who used the gesture under their flag’s notorious symbol (their symbol was used to represent crossed “S” letters for their “socialist” dogma -another of Dr. Curry’s discoveries). The pledge continues to be the origin of similar behavior even though the gesture was changed to hide the pledge’s putrid past. The pledge is central to the US’s police state and its continued growth.

  • ricras384

    Ed, your piece is not an example of free thought, but rather it is a fine example of anti-American propaganda. You’ve omitted some key facts that were aptly pointed out by Gregory in Seattle. I can see why Glenn Beck isn’t wasting his time with you. You are the conspiracy generator by publishing this absurdly misleading piece of propaganda. Anyone who chooses to believe your assertions about the Pledge of Allegiance hasn’t bothered to take an objective look at its true history. Frankly, I can’t believe I wasted my time reading your nonsense and commenting on it.