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Fast Facts: Pledge of Allegiance History

The Pledge of Allegiance (search) was written by socialist editor and clergyman Francis Bellamy (search). It was first published in 1892 in The Youth's Companion, a children's magazine where Bellamy worked.

After a proclamation by President Benjamin Harrison, the pledge made its debut in public schools on Oct. 12, 1892, during Columbus Day observances.

The original 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."

The pledge has been changed a few times since. For Flag Day in 1924, "the flag of the United States of America" was officially adopted as a substitution for the phrase "my flag."

In 1954, the words "under God" were added, after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus (search), a Roman Catholic organization, and other religious leaders who sermonized that the pledge needed to be distinguished from similar orations used by "godless communists."

The prospect of atomic war between world superpowers so moved President Eisenhower that he directed Congress to add the words. Congress did so in 1954, and that version is used today:

"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."