Pledge writer probably wouldn't mind removal of under God, family says

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Descendants of the man who authored the Pledge of Allegiance say he probably wouldn't mind the removal of the words "under God" because he wouldn't have wanted them added in the first place. Scott Bellamy, 49, who owns a sandwich shop in a Memphis suburb, says his great-grandfather, Francis Bellamy, a socialist editor and Baptist minister, had clear reasons behind every word of the original pledge he wrote in 1892.

Francis Bellamy protested even the addition of "the United States of America" on Flag Day in 1924, believing the pledge as he wrote it did not need changing. "If he didn't want 'the United States of America' in the pledge, he wouldn't have wanted 'under God,"' Scott Bellamy told The Commercial Appeal of Memphis.

Wednesday, a federal appeals court in California found reciting the pledge in public schools was unconstitutional because the words "under God" inserted by Congress in 1954 amount to government endorsement of religion. The ruling ignited a storm of criticism and was put on hold. Shortly before his death in 1931, Francis Bellamy wrote a letter to his 10-year-old grandson - Scott Bellamy's father - explaining how he wrote the pledge originally for schoolchildren.

He said that in 1892 he was an associate editor of Youth's Companion magazine and was chosen to prepare an official program to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus's arrival in America. He said President Benjamin Harrison asked him "to write his proclamation for this national celebration in which I put the words 'On that day let the national flag float over every schoolhouse in the land and the exercises be such as to teach patriotism."'

If flags were to fly over the schools, he felt the official program should include a salute to the flag. Beginning with the first words "I pledge allegiance to my flag," the next question was why, he wrote. He said he felt the flag stood for the republic, which he described as "one nation, indivisible" by the Civil War. He closed by illustrating the idea that united Americans - "liberty and justice for all." The original pledge wording was: "I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands: one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Francis Bellamy first heard it recited on Columbus Day in 1892 when 6,000 high school boys in Boston "roared it out" in unison, he said. Francis Bellamy wrote that he later learned that the pledge was adopted by the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the Daughters of the Revolution and the Elks.

Today, Scott Bellamy's son, Brad Bellamy, 20, is proud of his patriotic ancestor. "I think it's awesome. I always have," Brad Bellamy said. He knows of the Flag Day celebrations that family members have attended as guests, along with honors, like an uncle's recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at a Republican national convention in the 1960s.

Brad Bellamy, who recited the pledge at a Millington Flag Day celebration when he was 6, said he would like for "under God" to stay in the pledge. "But the way the country is now, you're going to step on somebody's toes no matter what you do," said Brad Bellamy, a junior majoring in history at Harding University in Arkansas. However, both Bellamys said they will support any decision about the pledge made by the U.S. Supreme Court. "I'm a Christian and I believe I have a right to feel that way," Scott Bellamy said. "But we have to respect how other people feel. If the Supreme Court rules it is unconstitutional, I'll respect the law of the land."

June 28, 2002 The Associated Press

Frances Bellamy; Freemason, socialist, Baptist preacher.

Francis Julius Bellamy (May 18, 1855 - August 28, 1931) was an American Baptist minister and Christian Socialist[1] who wrote the original Pledge of Allegiance in 1892. It was published in the Youth's Companion, which was a nationally circulated family-oriented magazine, and by 1892 was the largest publication of any type in the United States, with a circulation around 500,000. His cousin Edward Bellamy is the noted author of the socialist utopian novels, Looking Backward (1888) and Equality (1897).

In 1891, Daniel Sharp Ford, the owner of the Youth's Companion, hired Bellamy to work with Ford's nephew James B. Upham in the magazine's premium department. In 1888, the Youth's Companion had begun a campaign to sell American flags to public schools as a premium to solicit subscriptions.

For Upham and Bellamy, the flag promotion was more than merely a business move; under their influence, the Youth's Companion became a fervent supporter of the schoolhouse flag movement, which aimed to place a flag above every school in the nation. By 1892, the magazine had sold American flags to approximately 26,000 schools. By this time the market was slowing for flags, but was not yet saturated.

The previous year, Upham had the idea of using the anniversary of Christopher Columbus reaching the Americas to further bolster the schoolhouse flag movement. The magazine called for a national Columbian Public School Celebration to coincide with the World's Columbian Exposition. A flag salute was to be part of the official program for the Columbus Day celebration to be held in schools all over America.

The Pledge was published in the September 8, 1892, issue of the magazine, and immediately put to use in the campaign. Bellamy went to speak to a national meeting of school superintendents to promote the celebration; the convention liked the idea and selected a committee of leading educators to implement the program, including the immediate past president of the National Education Association.

Bellamy was selected as the chair. Having received the official blessing of educators, Bellamy's committee now had the task of spreading the word across the nation and of designing an official program for schools to follow on the day of national celebration. He structured the program around a flag raising ceremony and his pledge.

His original Pledge read as follows: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to* the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" (* 'to' added in October 1892).

The recital was accompanied with a salute to the flag known as the Bellamy salute, described in detail by Bellamy. During World War II, the salute was replaced with a hand-over-heart gesture because the original form involved stretching the arm out towards the flag in a manner that resembled the later Nazi salute. (For a history of the pledge, see Pledge of Allegiance).

Bellamy commented on his thoughts as he created the pledge, and his reasons for choosing the careful wording:

"It began as an intensive communing with salient points of our national history, from the Declaration of Independence onwards; with the makings of the Constitution... with the meaning of the Civil War; with the aspiration of the people... "The true reason for allegiance to the Flag is the 'republic for which it stands'. ...And what does that vast thing, the Republic mean? It is the concise political word for the Nation - the One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove. To make that One Nation idea clear, we must specify that it is indivisible, as Webster and Lincoln used to repeat in their great speeches. And its future?

"Just here arose the temptation of the historic slogan of the French Revolution which meant so much to Jefferson and his friends, 'Liberty, equality, fraternity'. No, that would be too fanciful, too many thousands of years off in realization. But we as a nation do stand square on the doctrine of liberty and justice for all..."

Bellamy is buried in Rome, New York. Ref. Wiki