Stuff You Should Know

Stuff You Should Know

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March 18, 2020 15 min
The American Pledge of Allegiance is much more interesting than you might think. Give us 12 minutes and we'll fill you in. Learn more about your ad-choices at
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Episode Transcription

The text below is machine transcribed.

Hey and welcome to the short stuff, I'm Josh, there's Chuck, there's Jerry, just as it should be short stuff. Let's come, do you remember the pledge of allegiance by heart?

I do. I was at a city council meeting the other day and I, as you do said it yeah.

I was like. Oh I'm a little rusty, it's been a while.

I know I did the same thing. I went to say it. Myhead D was like, I think, I'm getting some of these words wrong, but this is about the pledge of allegiance. I think we should I'll just read it real quick.

So everyone knows what we're talking about this is.

This is what we do in our country, everybody.

Every morning when we yeah, when you wake up the the loud speaker in everyone's house, command you to rise and say the place, I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and and to the Republic for which it stands one nation under who, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all all everybody that was the most bizarre rendition of the pledge of allegience I've ever heard. In my life, that's right and as it turns out as we will see, the pledge of allegiance was a marketing tool.

It was, it really was. It was an ad on for sales for a little magazine called the youth companion, which just is not a good name for a magazine, but it sounds that I know it's not, but that sounds so naty it does. That sounds. It sounds blandly menacing somehow right, but it was edited by a guy who was the opposite of Blanley medicing, a guy named Francis Bellame, or he was a yeah. He was an assistant editor at the time and his last name might sound familiar his cousin, Edward bellme wrote a very famous utopian novel called looking backward and looking backward was basically about how you know by the year two thousand inequality will have been done away with, and people won't work will retire at forty five and have a life of leisure, and things are just going to be a lot better than they are now and one of the ways that they were going to get better according to Edward Bellame and his cousin, Francis who's.

The main character in the story is through Christian socialist values, and so Francis Bellame was a Christian Socialist. What Josh it's a socialist WHO's, a Christian, that's right! It was a group of people who said you know what we can get equitable society. We can go further as a people through Christian values and being Christ like who we can all agree was probably a socialist.

Oh most decidedly.

Everybody knows that so at the time. This is the s when our story really is set.

There was a huge influxion of immigrants in the United States, and it's very much like it is today. There was a lot of division over you know hat. Is that a good thing? Is that a bad thing are they going to take over?

You know our jobs or they going to drive wages down.

It was time of great change for the United States there as a huge amount of inequality. Just like there is today.

It's I don't want to say a mere image of our time, but there are a lot of similarities, and so Francis Bellame was like. I believe that having immigrants is a good thing, but I also believe that they should become members of America. They should become Americanized and one of the ways that es of America one of the ways he he thought that that would be a good, a good way to carry that out is to to basically inculcate their children in school in public schools. Yes, Start Hem early, it's an old trick, oldest trick in the book. Yeah really is. This is not like radical innovative thinking now get get it going, wit the kids and you got hem.

This was a big deal, though, because pre civil war, there wasn't some big huge public school system, it was, it was postivel war I and s when you really started getting the Rampup in public schools and the idea that hey we've got all these kids trapped all day long yeah we got yo whatever we want, we can. We can do whatever we want. We can make them good citizens as well as educating them, and we can do it all hey. I read this article years back, I don't remember when, but it basically said that the public school system - I guess starting about this time - was training kids for the sole purpose of going to work in factories. Aregh, like mindless busy work sitting still in quiet for eight hours. At's Holl ta et shape that yeah that that was ultimately what they were, what they were teaching kids to do, and I was like wow that was an eyeopening thing to read so sorry to blow your mind like that chuck, but round about this time.

The Colombian exposition was about to happen, and we know that by its other name, the world's fair of Chicago in Eighthden. Ninety three: that's right. It was at Marcthy four hundredth anniversary of Columbus's first new world journey, and so the youth companion, the magazine that we'v Mentioned U and Bellame, they said Hey.

We can really get involved in this thing and we can really ramp up the patriotism.

If we team up with some CIPIC groups - and we can sell a lot of American flags, we can get a lot of new subscribers to our magazine. We can make some serious coin, yeah make some big money basically, and so we're going to print a program, a patriotic program for these schools all over the country that kids can recite on this date. On October, twenty irse Eighteen, ninety two, which was the the big celebration day nationally for the Colombian celebration, and they said Bellame, you go right. This thing go put something together, yeah and he did it came up with plays patriotic songs ways to honor.

I don't know what the word I'm looking for is.

I don't know I guess, profiles of Civil War Heroes - okay, I 's just typical patriotic American stuff, but one of the things just one of these things that were part of this big whole program and wasn't meant to be some standout thing like it became, was a pledge of allegiance and it was kind of like the one that we have today, but a stripdown version, and we will really get into it right after this message all right. So it's one thosand, eight hudred and ninety two right got this big celebration going on honoring the Great Great Christopher Columbus. Who did everything the right way, exactly love that guy everyone does, and there was already a pledge of allegiance one housand, eight hundred and eighty five we should mention which came about for the very first Flag Day Celebration: Yeah, poor George George T balk or Bulchs probably marked from birth.

What was that name? Yeah Yeah?

It was never going to work out for him.

He actually wrote the first pledge of allegiance and in some schools they were doing this, and it said I give my heart and my hand to my country.

One Country, one language, one flag, not bad.

The whole thing almost reads like a yawn yeah, so didoldick, no it didn't Embello me I mean bellme could have just republished this, but he's like I can do better.

He said he called it childish yeah. He did so. He wrote his own Pleg, a new pledge of allegiance, and it said I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands. One Nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all and O one H and eiht hundred and ninety two all of the schools that got this program recited this.

I guess all at once, wis kind of like a predecessor tot hands across America or something like that and Bellame said he was. He was pretty proud of it, but apparently he was going to add liberty, equality, fraternity at the end, like the French slogan, the French Republic slogan, but he's like ais too fansful, so FRIS left it left it, as is that's right and he also chuck recommended a way to salute the flag during the pledge of a League Du. Didn't he sure did I mean there's no other way to describe the bellame salute other than a Nazi salute and upside out. Nati salute yeah, but this was.

This is way way way before that came about. So obviously there was there was no Nanti salute. There were no Nazis.

No, but apparently that's so rather than you know, just imagine the Nazi salute, but rather than Yoryour palm down, your palm is up kind of, like almost like you're, like a backup dancer like yeah right like given it to the to the leading inser at front. But then you got to do both hands and start hem at your waist and bring them up right as you sying.

Have you ever seen that dreamhands video, no I'll, send it to you you're going to love it? It's like an instrectional dannce video, for you know, upward bound kids and it iw'll just send it to all right, but anyway, so it wasn't. Until n thousand nine hundred and forty three that we ditched the rever upside down Nazi salute to the flag. In one thousand nine hundred and forty three wile post war, people were doing that actually not post war, Perry war yeah.

I think one thousand nine hundred and twenty three, though, was when they had the first revision to the L, not lyric, but I guess you could sing it sure at the national flag conference delegates there said that my flag, they said you know this little vague and we don't want anyone thinking that immigrants are talking about their home countries flag right, so they change AK, so they change it to the flag of the United States.

Then I think about a year after that tagged on of America, just everyone knew what was going on Yeph, and so everybody went bonkers for this, like Teya, pretty pretty much out of the gate.

School started reciting it like. We said they were reciting the other pledge before now they picked up this new one and in ine thousandeight hudred and ninety eight New York became the first state to make reciting the pledge in schools compulsory, which is a whole different jam than everyone. Just saying the pledge is part of this.

You know this Noi, Christopher Columbus, sure, right and so very quickly after that, especially around World War. One, the beginning of the US's involvement more and more state started requiring compulsory pledges in schools too.

That's right - and you know it's no coincidence - that those aligned with moments of political and certainly warlike a people in this country - yes, and then yeah. We got ta mention and under God, because I think you notice it and never said that up until this point in the podcast, except at the beginning, when I read it all right that didn't come about Ne Tousand, nine hundred and fifty four isn't that crazy. I Know Eisen Hower Si you know he's the knights of Columbu said you know what Dwight, maybe you should throw under God in there and he did, and they said I think the quote was they felt that schools in the United States were under threat of infiltration by Godless, communists atsalright. So let's just throw that in there yeah, and I wonder if they're going to further change it to highly divisible instead of indivisible, so so divisible. Yes, there was there've been a couple of Supreme Court cases about it to Chuckn when states paste it as compulsory.

Now it's compulsory typically for teachers to lead the pledge, but not for students - that's not how it always was andtuil one thousandnine hundred and firty three students were compelled to say the pledge, as well, but Thn on thousand nine hundred and figty three in the case West Virginia Board of Education Versus Barnet, which involved some Jehovah's Witness children who were like I'm not supposed to be doing this. It's a religious thing.

Students are, finally the Supreme Court said. No, you can't you can't force anyone to say the pledge. That's right!

So that's it for the pledge of Legiance, Huh yeah good stuff thanks today, brew is our old or old pal there and that's going to be.

This is hot off the PRESSIS. This is going to be on the house deperts website. Yes, so God check it out at how Su forks and in the meantime short stuff is out.

Stuff you should know, is a production of ihart radios. Howse stuff works for more podcast to my heart, radio eviuse it. The IHEART radio, at Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite, shows

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