The pledge of allegiance to the American flag is neither an old verse nor one composed by the Republic’s founding fathers. It was written especially for children in the summer of 1892, to commemorate that year’s celebration of Columbus Day in public schools throughout the country.
The pledge’s first appearance in print was on September 8, 1892, in The Youth’s Companion, an educational publication. It is estimated that more than ten million American schoolchildren recited it that Columbus Day. In its original form, it read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands- one nation indivisible- with liberty and justice for all.”
Its author was an editor of The Youth’s Companion, Francis Bellamy of Rome, New York. Bellamy intended the verse to be a one-time recitation. But its immediate popularity among the nation’s schoolchildren and teachers transformed it first into an annual Columbus Day tradition, then into a daily classroom ritual. It became one of the earliest verses memorized by school children.
Since its debut, Bellamy’s pledge has undergone two altercations. In 1923, the United States Flag Association replaced the somewhat ambiguously person “my flag” wording with the more explicitly patriotic “the Flag of the United States of America.” And in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill that introduced a religious note to the pledge, with the addition to the words “under God.”
From: Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things by Charles Panati