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Songs and Oaths:
The Pledge of Allegiance

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.

U.S. Code citation: 4USC4

The Pledge of Allegiance was first published in 1892 in The Youth's Companion magazine in Boston, Massachusetts to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America. It was first used in public schools to celebrate Columbus Day on October 12, 1892. The Pledge received official recognition by Congress as an Act approved on June 22, 1942. The phrase "under God" was added to the Pledge by a Congressional act approved on June 14, 1954.

A controversy arose concerning the authorship of the Pledge of 1892. Claims were made on behalf of both James B. Upham, one of the editors of The Youth's Companion, and Francis Bellamy, an assistant editor. In 1939, a committee of the U.S. Flag Association ruled in favor of Bellamy, and a detailed report issued by the U.S. Library of Congress in 1957 supported the committee's ruling.

The United States Code (4USC4) states that when delivering the Pledge of Allegiance, all must be standing at attention, facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. It also states that men not in uniform should remove any nonreligious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.

To learn more, check out the following resources:

  • The United States Code, Title 4 (Flag and Seal, Seat of Government, and the States), Chapter 1 (The Flag) contains laws on how the Pledge should be recited. The U.S. Code is the permanent book of U.S. laws.
  • Our Flag [PDF, 1.78MB] [TEXT, 218k], Senate Document 105-13. This document contains historical information and the full text of the Pledge.