Francis Bellamy Pens the Pledge of
Allegiance to the Flag
Francis Bellamy, the author of the Pledge of Allegiance
to the Flag, was pastor of the
First Baptist Church of Little Falls, in upstate
New York from 1879-1885. After graduating from the
University of Rochester in 1876, Pastor Bellamy studied
at Rochester Theological Seminary. He was
ordained to the Gospel ministry and installed as pastor of
this church in 1879. When Reverend Bellamy left Little
Falls, he became pastor of the Dearborn Street Baptist
Church of Boston. He subsequently became Advertising
Editor of the weekly Youth's Companion. In 1892,
while serving as the chairman of the National Public School
Celebration of Columbus Day, on the occasion of the 400th
Anniversary of Columbus' discovery of America, he penned the
final draft of the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States
I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the
Republic for which it stands,
one nation, indivisible with liberty and
justice for all.
This beautiful Pledge was the result of many
discussions between Reverend Bellamy and his superior, James
B. Upham, and was designed to combat a growing movement
aimed at destroying the national pride and patriotism of
(Source: First Baptist Church of Little Falls,
New York Handbook. Sesquicentennial Services 1879-1979.
Rooted in the Past, Building in the Present, Reaching to the
On June 14, 1954, Flag Day, President Dwight D.
Eisenhower signed into law, House Joint Resolution 243,
which added to the Pledge of Allegiance the compelling and
meaningful words: under God. "I
pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of
America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation
under God, indivisible, with
liberty and justice for all." This came about after
Eisenhower and his wife had attended the Sunday, February 7,
1954, Lincoln Day Observance Service at
the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church (Abraham Lincoln's
church) - the sermon topic, "Under God"
being preached by Pastor George Docherty, D.D. So moving
are these lines, that they are here excerpted for the reader
"...And where did all this come from? It has been with
us so long, we have to recall it was brought here by the
people who laid stress on the fundamentals...These
fundamental concepts of life had been given to the world
from Sinai, where the moral law was graven upon tables of
stone, symbolizing the universal application to all men; and
they came from the New Testament, where they heard in the
words of Jesus of Nazareth the living Word of God for the
This is the American way of life. Lincoln saw this
clearly. History for him was the Divine Comedy, though he
would not use that phrase. The providence of God was being
Wherefore, he claims that it is under God that this
nation shall know a new birth of freedom. And by
implication, it is under God that "government of the people,
by the people and for the people shall not perish from the
earth." For Lincoln, since God was in His Heaven all must
ultimately be right for his country...
Russia claims to have liberty. You will never under
the Communist mind until you realize this aberration of
their judgment. Marx in his dialectic, makes it clear that
the communist state is only an imperfect stage toward true
socialism. When that day comes, the state will wither away
and thus socialism will reign forever. Utopia will have
dawned. Until that day there must be personal limitations.
As the capitalist state limits freedom in the day of war, so
must the workers of the world accept this form of restricted
freedom. Besides, claims Marx, trouble arises when you give
men their unrestricted freedom. Human freedom always
proliferates into license and gives rise to greed and war.
They might claim that their servitude is perfect freedom.
Again, the Communists claim there is justice in
Russia. They have their law courts. They have their
elections with universal suffrage. When pressed to the
point, they will admit there is really only one candidate
because the people are so unanimous about that way of life.
They call their way of life "democratic." One of the
problems statesmen find in dealing with Russia is one of
semantics, of definition. Russia says she is democratic and
we are Fascist; we claim to be democratic and call Russia
What, therefore, is missing in the Pledge of Allegiance
that Americans have been saying since 1892, and officially
since 1942? The one fundamental concept that completely and
ultimately separates Communist Russia from the democratic
institutions of this country. This was seen clearly by
Lincoln. Under God this people shall know a new birth of
freedom, and "under God'' are the
Now, Lincoln was not being original in that phrase.
He was simply reminding the people of the basis
upon which the Nation won its freedom in its Declaration of
Independence. He went back to Jefferson as he did in a
famous speech delivered at Independence Hall in Philadelphia
on February 22, 1861, two years before the Gettysburg
Address. "All the political sentiments I entertain have
been drawn from the sentiments which originated and were
given to the world from this hall. I have never had a
feeling politically that did not spring from sentiments
embodied in the
Declaration of Independence."
Listen again to the fundamentals of this Declaration:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men
are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..."
In Jefferson's phrase, if we deny the existence of the
God who gave us life, how can we live by the liberty He gave
us at the same time? This is a God-fearing nation.
On our coins, bearing the imprint of
Lincoln and Jefferson are the words 'In God we
trust.' Congress is opened with prayer.
It is upon the Holy Bible the President takes his oath of
office. Naturalized citizens, when they take their oath of
allegiance, conclude, solemnly, with the words 'so
help me God.'
This is the issue we face today: A
freedom that respects the rights of the minorities, but is
defined by a fundamental belief in God. A way of life that
sees man, not as the ultimate outcome of a mysterious
concantenation of evolutionary process, but a sentient being
created by God and seeking to know His will, and "whose soul
is restless till he rest in God..."
The meaningful and compelling words: One nation under
God, denoting dependence and reliance upon Almighty God, our
Benefactor and Sustainer, were adapted from Abraham
Lincoln's famed Gettysburg Address (November 19, 1863),
where he describes America as "this nation under