Pledge of Allegiance Adopted by Congress: On This Day, June 22

Fifth graders pledge allegiance at a War Production Board presentation, 1942 (Library of Congress)

"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."

The words of the Pledge of Allegiance, adopted by Congress on June 22, 1942, are familiar. But most Americans probably don’t know the history of those words, and the changes they have gone through over time.

Pledge Timeline

  • September 9, 1892: The pledge is introduced in the magazine The Youth’s Companion as part of a program to celebrate Columbus Day in schools across the country. The words were written by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and Christian Socialist, and read: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all."
  • June 14, 1923: The National Flag Conference, sponsored by the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, changes "my Flag" to "the flag of the United States of America," in part to ensure that recent immigrants had the US flag in mind and not the flag of their nation of origin.
  • June 22, 1942: Congress formally recognizes the pledge and includes it in the federal Flag Code.
  • December 22, 1942: Congress changes the official manner of delivery to placing the right hand over the heart; the previous stance, one hand extended from the body, was too reminiscent of the Nazi salute. The "Bellamy Salute" had directed that "the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, toward the Flag."
  • June 14, 1954: President Eisenhower approves the congressional resolution adding the words "under God" to the pledge. The Knights of Columbus and other groups, as well as Eisenhower himself, had lobbied for the change.

The words and manner of delivery of the Pledge of Allegiance are currently laid out in TITLE 4 - CHAPTER 1 - Sec. 4. of the United States Code:

The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag: "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.", should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious 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. Members of the Armed Forces not in uniform and veterans may render the military salute in the manner provided for persons in uniform.