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Case for the Pledge of Allegiance

The original 23 words of the Pledge of Allegiance were written by Frank Bellamy of Cherryvale, Kansas. He wrote the pledge as a school project at two different times. Each time the pledge was submitted to a contest.

The first time that Frank Bellamy wrote the pledge was in 1890 as a class assignment. “Our teacher suggested we enter the contest. We did so each writing what they thought would express best their opinion of what each boy and girl had in mind, when they were saluting the U.S. Flag,” Bellamy said. The contest, sponsored by the Youth's Companion magazine, was “The Flag and the Public School.” Calls for entry appeared in the January 9, 1890, issue of the magazine with the deadline of April 1890.

The September 8, 1892, issue of the Youth’s Companion contained an essay that Bellamy claimed was “the exact wordage and form” that he had submitted, but offering no byline or credit to Bellamy. When Bellamy wrote to question the authorship, he received the following response: “All essays, statements, or written matter submitted in this contest shall remain, and is, the property of the Youth’s Companion magazine.”

In a subsequent class assignment, Bellamy submitted his Pledge of Allegiance to Lillian Hendricks, patriotic director of the local Women’s Relief Corps. Hendricks had asked Cherryvale high school principal Irene Beckley Powell for senior class members to write a patriotic paper. In 1898 the Women’s Relief Corps with the blessings of President William McKinley was host to a contest to select the national pledge. Hendricks remembered Bellamy’s essay. While he was serving with the 20th National Guard unit in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War, Hendricks submitted his work, which was selected as the national Pledge of Allegiance.

In late 1899 Hendricks greeted Bellamy and his family at the railroad station to share the good news as his unit was returning home. Bellamy had contracted tuberculosis during the war and soon moved to Colorado at the encouragement of his doctors. He died in 1915 in Denver, Colorado. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Cherryvale.

  • Story of the Pledge of Allegiance
  • Additional research: Janice Barnes and George Miller of Madison, Indiana, the birthplace of Frank E. Bellamy; Terri Harley of Girard, Kansas, where Frank E. Bellamy started school; and LaVerna Huneycutt, Andy Taylor, Wayne Hallowall, Sylvia Shaffer, Toddy Hosfelt, and John Littell of Cherryvale, Kansas, where the Bellamy family made their home and Frank is buried.

Entry: Case for the Pledge of Allegiance

Author: Joyce Long, Cherryvale, Kansas

Author information: Author of Be the Jury! Be the Judge! Who Wrote the Pledge of Allegiance?

Date Created: June 2012

Date Modified: February 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.