Posts Tagged ‘Pledge of Allegiance’

One Nation, Indivisible

Posted: August 31, 2009 by elutherian in Uncategorized

pledgeFrancis Bellamy, an American Baptist minister and devout Christian Socialist, wrote the “Pledge of Allegiance” as a symbolic poem to unite the American people in pride, and to imbibe that sentiment into the public education system, so children would be taught the value of the “Nation” from their early years up.

After the poem was published in 1892, a vast campaign by politicians and public schools to initiate it as a national pledge to be repeated by school-children everywhere in the country came underway. The “unpatriotic” private and parochial schools were demonized for their lack of adherence to this new rule. The pledge was to be said, by the children, standing and facing the flag, their arms out forward, palms flat, in the tradition of the Roman Salute. This was later abandoned when it drew ominous similarities with the Nazi Party salute in the 1930’s, and was replaced with placing one’s right hand over the heart.

The poem itself evolved over time. It’s original form was: I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. This was changed in the same year it was published to include “to the republic”, as it was deemed more poetic. In 1923 it was changed to specify which flag was to be saluted by adding “to the flag of the United States”. A year later it was changed to include “to the flag of the United States of America”. In 1954 it was changed a final time to include the phrase “Under God”, a move that has caused much controversy.

Francis’ cousin, Edward Bellamy, was famous for writing a book that was noteworthy at the time: Looking Backward. In the book, Julian West, an upper class man from 1887, awakes in the year 2000 to find the world a Socialist Utopia. Every man was drafted into the army when they were old enough, and served their country until the age of 45. After that, they were allowed to retire. Every industry was managed by central planners. It was called a “heaven on earth”. Edward and Francis were both stringent Socialists who believed America was the nation under which their utopian dream would flourish… they may have been right.

Francis described his reasons for writing the “Pledge” as follows: 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…

What Bellamy meant by “Liberty and Justice” was in fact closer to Rousseau’s ideal of the words. That “liberty” is to be defined as the “will of the Nation” and of the State that rules over it. Justice was the Marxist ideal brought into reality: From each according to his ability, to each according to their need.

The Pledge, and the description Bellamy attributed to it, is important to understand. We have been taught that the Pledge of Allegiance is sacred, as is our Nation. The reality, however, is that the Pledge, in all it’s lyrical glory, is symbolic of the America left to us from 1865 onward. A country that has so deviated from the original Constitutional Republic and the intents of the founders, that one would be hard pressed to find an aspect of life not controlled, sanctioned, or guided by the iron fist of the Federal Government.