Only the most ignorant among us don’t know that “under God” was not part of the original Pledge of Allegiance. A few, like me, know that it was written by a socialist (irony!). But the Smithsonian Magazine has some other interesting tidbits about it that I didn’t know.
Francis Bellamy reportedly wrote the Pledge of Allegiance in two hours, but it was the culmination of nearly two years of work at the Youth’s Companion, the country’s largest circulation magazine. In a marketing gimmick, the Companion offered U.S. flags to readers who sold subscriptions, and now, with the looming 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World, the magazine planned to raise the Stars and Stripes “over every Public School from the Atlantic to the Pacific” and salute it with an oath.
Bellamy, a former Baptist preacher, had irritated his Boston Brahmin flock with his socialist ideas. But as a writer and publicist at the Companion, he let ’em rip. In a series of speeches and editorials that were equal parts marketing, political theory and racism, he argued that Gilded Age capitalism, along with “every alien immigrant of inferior race,” eroded traditional values, and that pledging allegiance would ensure “that the distinctive principles of true Americanism will not perish as long as free, public education endures.”
I’ve always loved it that Bellamy was a socialist. In fact, he was the leader of the Christian Socialists of America. Sometimes when I argue about the Pledge of Allegiance, I’ll come at people not from the left but from the even-further-right position. Hey, if you want to recite a pledge written by a bloody communist, you go right ahead, but that only proves how much you hate America and its God-ordained capitalist system!