The first pledge to the American flag was composed in 1885 by a Civil War veteran named Col. George Balch. His simple version read: “We give our heads and our hearts to God and our country; one country, one language, one flag.” Balch’s pledge was used in some schools. It was later replaced by a salute written by Francis Bellamy, a Christian socialist and Baptist minister. Bellamy’s pledge was written in 1892 for the magazine “Youth’s Companion,” which sought a new pledge to the flag to use in patriotic celebrations in connection with the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World. Bellamy wrote an oath that read, “I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Bellamy’s pledge became popular in schools, with some revisions to the original. In 1923 and 1924, the National Flag Conference changed the wording to “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.” Congress officially adopted the pledge in 1942 and ruled that it should be recited while holding the right hand over the heart. In 1954, in response to lobbying by religious groups and fraternal organizations, and with the support of President Eisenhower, Congress passed a bill adding the words, “under God.” There are few words that have been memorized by so many people and spoken as often as the thirty-one word Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.
From Jauflione Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution