Francis Bellamy

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Francis Bellamy
Born Francis Julius Bellamy
(1855-05-18)May 18, 1855
Mount Morris, New York, United States
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Occupation Author, editor, and minister

Francis Julius Bellamy (May 18, 1855 – August 28, 1931) was a Christian socialist minister and author,[1][2] best known for writing the American Pledge of Allegiance.

Personal life

Francis Julius Bellamy was born in Mount Morris, NY. His family was deeply involved in the Baptist church and they moved to Rome, NY when Bellamy was only 5. Here, Bellamy became an active member of the First Baptist Church; which his father was minister of until his death in 1864. He attended college at the University of Rochester, in Rochester, NY and studied theology and was part of the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity.

As a young man, he became a Baptist minister and, influenced by the vestiges of the Second Great Awakening, began to travel to promote his faith and help his community. Bellamy's travels brought him to Massachusetts. It was there that he penned the "Pledge of Allegiance" for a campaign by the "Youth's Companion;" a patriotic circular of the day. Bellamy "believed in the absolute separation of church and state"[3] and did not include the phrase "one nation under God" within his original pledge.

Bellamy married Harriet Benton in Newark, NY in 1881. They had two sons: John, who lived in California, and David, who lived in Rochester, New York. His first wife died in 1918, and he later married Marie Morin (1920).

Bellamy ran for Governor of New York, but lost. His daughter-in-law Rachael (David's wife) lived in Rochester until Feb/Mar of 1989 when she died at the age of 93. No information is readily available on son John or his family in California or of any other relatives. David and Rachael had two children, David Jr. and Peter.

Francis Bellamy spent most of the last years of his life living and working in Tampa, FL. He died there on August 28, 1931 at the age of 76. His cremated remains were brought back to New York where they were buried in a family plot in a cemetery in Rome.[4][5]

The Pledge

In 1891, Daniel Sharp Ford, the owner of the Youth's Companion, hired Bellamy to work with Ford's nephew James B. Upham in the magazine's premium department. In 1888, the Youth's Companion had begun a campaign to sell American flags to public schools as a premium to solicit subscriptions. For Upham and Bellamy, the flag promotion was more than merely a business move; under their influence, the Youth's Companion became a fervent supporter of the schoolhouse flag movement, which aimed to place a flag above every school in the nation. Four years later, by 1892, the magazine had sold American flags to approximately 26,000 schools. By this time the market was slowing for flags, but was not yet saturated.

In 1892, Upham had the idea of using the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus reaching the Americas to further bolster the schoolhouse flag movement. The magazine called for a national Columbian Public School Celebration to coincide with the World's Columbian Exposition. A flag salute was to be part of the official program for the Columbus Day celebration to be held in schools all over America.

The Pledge was published in the September 8, 1892, issue of the magazine, and immediately put to use in the campaign. Bellamy went to speak to a national meeting of school superintendents to promote the celebration; the convention liked the idea and selected a committee of leading educators to implement the program, including the immediate past president of the National Education Association. Bellamy was selected as the chair. Having received the official blessing of educators, Bellamy's committee now had the task of spreading the word across the nation and of designing an official program for schools to follow on the day of national celebration. He structured the program around a flag-raising ceremony and his pledge.

His original Pledge read as follows:

"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to* the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all"
(* 'to' added in October 1892).

The recital was accompanied with a salute to the flag known as the Bellamy salute, described in detail by Bellamy. During World War II, the salute was replaced with a hand-over-heart gesture because the original form involved stretching the arm out towards the flag in a manner that resembled the later Nazi salute. (For a history of the pledge, see Pledge of Allegiance).

In 1954, in response to the perceived threat of secular Communism, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words "under God," creating the 31-word pledge that is recited today.[6]

Bellamy commented on his thoughts as he created the pledge, and his reasons for choosing the careful wording:

"It began as an intensive communing with salient points of our national history, from the Declaration of Independence onwards; with the makings of the Constitution... with the meaning of the Civil War; with the aspiration of the people...
"The true reason for allegiance to the Flag is the 'republic for which it stands'. ...And what does that last thing, the Republic mean? It is the concise political word for the Nation – the One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove. To make that One Nation idea clear, we must specify that it is indivisible, as Webster and Lincoln used to repeat in their great speeches. And its future?
"Just here arose the temptation of the historic slogan of the French Revolution which meant so much to Jefferson and his friends, 'Liberty, equality, fraternity'. No, that would be too fanciful, too many thousands of years off in realization. But we as a nation do stand square on the doctrine of liberty and justice for all..."

Bellamy "viewed his Pledge as an 'inoculation' that would protect immigrants and native-born but insufficiently patriotic Americans from the 'virus' of radicalism and subversion."[7]

Political views

Bellamy was a Christian socialist[1] who "championed 'the rights of working people and the equal distribution of economic resources, which he believed was inherent in the teachings of Jesus.'"[7] In 1891, Bellamy was "forced from his Boston pulpit for preaching against the evils of capitalism",[3] and eventually stopped attending church altogether after moving to Florida, reportedly because of the racism he witnessed there.[8]

In "Cultural Movements and Collective Memory : Christopher Columbus and the Rewriting of the National Origin Myth," Timothy Kubal explains:

Francis Bellamy was a leader in three related movement groups – the public education movement, which sought to celebrate and expand public schools, the nationalist movement, which sought to nationalize public services and protect them from privatization, and the Christian socialist movement, which sought to promote an economy based on justice and equality. Bellamy had preexisting relationships with grassroots groups representing each movement and he united his diverse network for collective memory activism in 1892.[9]
Francis Bellamy fused his participation in the Christian socialist movement and the nationalist movement. Francis began his career as a preacher, but after several years of service, he was ousted by a congregation that disliked his tendency to describe Jesus as a socialist. Bellamy was no simple preacher-turned-journalist, but the cousin of the most famous nationalist icon of the era. Edward Bellamy was the symbolic leader of the nationalist movement, which sought to nationalize public services and the economy to meet the needs of the masses rather than the few. Francis' cousin book – a utopian tale of an advanced socialist society – sparked more than one hundred grassroots nationalist organizations around the country called Bellamy Clubs. Edward protested against the name for his local group, and the others agreed to change the name to the Nationalist Club.[9]
Francis Bellamy also drew from networks established by the Christian socialist movement. Early in the nineteenth century, the French philosopher Henri de Sain-Simon expounded a "new Christianity" that sought to use scientific principles to help solve problems with the poor. Religion, science, and community were to be used to end the exploitation of the masses. By the end of the century, Bellamy and many of the "new St. Simonians," as they sometimes called themselves, saw nationalism (de-privatization) and public education as the policy solutions to meet the goals established by the Christian socialists, thus leading to a natural connection among the nationalist and Christian Socialist movements.[9]
The Society of Christian Socialists, a grassroots organization, was founded in Boston 1889. Francis Bellamy served as founding vice president and wrote several articles for the Society of Christian Socialists' newspaper, the Dawn. The newspaper was run by his cousin Edward and Frances Willard, president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. In one article, Francis Bellamy wrote that Christian socialists had the obligation to live out the golden rule, to act toward contemporary society as did Jesus. He quoted Bible passages that revered Moses and Jesus as denouncing the evils of greed and lust for money (ibid). Francis Bellamy (hereafter Bellamy) was also chairman of the Boston chapter of the Society of Christian Socialists' education committee.[9]
To raise the stature of the organizations, bring in funds, and educate the public about Christian Socialism, Bellamy offered public education classes; for a fee participants joined courses with topics such as "looking Backward," "Jesus the socialist," "What is Christian Socialism?" "The Subject of Labor in Light of the Bible," and "Socialism versus anarchy." This last lecture became particularly popular and Bellamy in 1891 was asked to turn it into a written piece for the Nationalist Club's newspaper, the Arena. Bellamy's essay distinguished anarchy from nationalism and socialism, and it declared the need for a strong government to protect the weak masses from the powerful corporations. He argued that the only socialist economy could produce work environments where both the worker and the owner could practice the golden rule (ibid). Through these experiences, Bellamy gained increasing experience with the media and with public relations. He used these tools to coordinate a massive Columbus Day campaign.[9]

On immigration and universal suffrage, Bellamy wrote: "[a] democracy like ours cannot afford to throw itself open to the world where every man is a lawmaker, every dull-witted or fanatical immigrant admitted to our citizenship is a bane to the commonwealth.”[7] And further: "Where all classes of society merge insensibly into one another every alien immigrant of inferior race may bring corruption to the stock. There are races more or less akin to our own whom we may admit freely and get nothing but advantage by the infusion of their wholesome blood. But there are other races, which we cannot assimilate without lowering our racial standard, which we should be as sacred to us as the sanctity of our homes."[10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Grand Lodge of BC and Yukon profile of Bellamy". Retrieved 2012-11-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Chapter Four: The Life and Ideas of Francis Bellamy". Retrieved 2012-11-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism", Susan Jacoby. Metropolitan Press, 2004. p. 287. ISBN 0-8050-7442-2
  6. "The Pledge of Allegiance". Retrieved 2012-11-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Jones, Jeffrey Owen and Meyer, Peter. "The Pledge: A History of the Pledge of Allegiance". Missing or empty |url= (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "The Pledge of Allegiance – A Short History". Retrieved 2012-11-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Kubal, Timothy (October 2008). Cultural Movements and Collective Memory : Christopher Columbus and the Rewriting of the National Origin Myth. Basingstoke, Hampshire, GBR: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9780230615762.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Martha Craven Nussbaum. Liberty of conscience: in defense of America's tradition of religious equality. Retrieved 2013-04-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links