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Handout #5:
TRACING THE EVOLUTION OF THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

Directions:
Trace the changes in the words and customs of the Pledge of Allegiance and speculate about the political and social dynamics that may have influenced those changes at that point in history.

Recommended resources:
You will find basic and helpful information about the history of the Pledge of Allegiance at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pledge_of_Allegiance. This site also includes photographs of the "stiff-arm" salute and a discussion about how and when that salute changed. (Please note that Wikipedia is an "open source," created and modified by its users. Be sure to review the information presented there to insure that it is accurate and correct.) A quick Internet search will turn up many other sites as well, but they may be less politically neutral in their approach.

Text of the Pledge Year Your Ideas About Why the Pledge Changed in This Time Frame
ORIGINAL PLEDGE

I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Written and published by Francis Bellamy in September 1892.
The original pledge was changed to add the word "to" so it now read:

I pledge allegiance to my Flag and TO the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
First recited in public schools on October 12, 1892 after a proclamation by President Benjamin Harrison.
The words were changed from "my Flag" to "the flag of the United States of America" so it now read: I pledge allegiance to THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. 1923 and 1924
The customary salute to the flag during the pledge changed.

Prior to the 1940s, it had been common to hold one's arm bent at the elbow to shoulder height, palm facing the ground and over the heart until the person pledging said the word "flag," at which point the person would extend the bent arm and raise it, "stiff-armed" to head height. The palm of that straight arm was held facing up and pointed at the flag.

In the 1940s, it became common to simply hold one's hand (or hat) over one's heart.
1940s
Congress passed a law that added the phrase "under God" to the pledge so it now reads:
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.
1954


Produced by Thirteen/WNET New York Funded by New York Life