It’s almost election time! Hairball. I hate politics, but I love history. So, I guess I like old politics because the emotion and sense of urgency has been drained out of it. Plus, one gets to act so clever through hindsight.
I was doing research for my Barn Door Post about Manifest Destiny when I inadvertently learned all about the Pledge of Allegiance. All I had known before was that Eisenhower added “under God,” and that an atheist student took her public school to court about being forced to say it.
Here are some more interesting tidbits:
- Original pledge was written in the late 1800s by Baptist Minister and Christian Socialist Francis Julius Bellamy. It read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
- Bellamy had wanted to throw the phrase “equality and fraternity” before “for all” as well, but knew it would never fly because the nation didn’t want to give equality to women and African Americans.
- The pledge got changed from “my Flag and the Republic” to “the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic” in 1923 because the government feared new immigrants would be confused by the general “my flag” language.
- Eisenhower didn’t come up with the “under God” thing himself. Chaplain Louis A. Bowman proposed it first as an extension of Lincoln’s pledge in the Gettysburg address “that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom.”
- But it was Holger Christian Langmack, a Danish philosopher and educator, who met with Eisenhower to try and convince him to add both “under God” and also “love” before “liberty and justice.”
- Eisenhower signed a law to change the pledge after attending Lincoln’s old church in 1954. Pastor George MacPherson Docherty used the opportunity to call for “under God” to be added to the pledge citing Lincoln’s address and a Divine providence that set the U.S. apart.
- Eisenhower, who’d just been baptized a Presbyterian, was moved to take action. According to Eisenhower, “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource, in peace or in war.”