OVERRIDE

The Pledge

A History of the Pledge of Allegiance

Jeffrey Owen Jones and Peter Meyer

Thomas Dunne Books

For more than a century, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance has been a central part of the American Experience. And perhaps because of its ubiquity, this simple flag salute has served not only as a unifying ritual but also as a lightning rod for bitter controversy.

Congress’s 1954 decision to add “under God” to the Pledge has made it the focus of three U.S. Supreme Court cases and at least one other landmark appellate decision. The debate continues today, but along with it exists a widely held admiration and support for this simple affirmation of our shared patriotism.

As Jeffrey Owen Jones and Peter Meyer show in their illuminating history, this brief salute to the flag has had an almost magical power to galvanize people’s deepest feelings and beliefs about who we are and ought to be as a nation. In that sense, the story of the Pledge of Allegiance is the story of America and the American people.


BOOK EXCERPTS

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On a sultry summer evening in Boston in the year 1892, a thirty-seven-year-old former clergyman named Francis Bellamy sat down at his desk in the offices of a popular family magazine where he worked and began to write:

I Pledge allegiance to my flag . . .

Neither Bellamy nor anyone else could have imagined that the single twenty-three-word sentence that emerged would evolve into one of the most familiar of patriotic texts and, based on student recitations alone, perhaps the most often repeated piece of writing in the history of the English language.
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REVIEWS

Praise for The Pledge

Praise for The Pledge:
 
"A concise and often entertaining history."--The Wall Street Journal
 
"A lively, highly readable account that documents not just the beginning of the Pledge but some of the controversies it triggered."--Tucson Citizen
 
"A worthwhile read for anyone interested in the evolution of the American system and American popular culture."--NYMAS Review
 
"The story of the pledge is a part of American history that is often overlooked. Thanks to Jones and Meyer, that story is now told."--Roll Call
 
"Jones (who died before he finished the book) and Meyer do a thorough job tracing the Pledge's history from the germ in Bellamy's brain to the cultural icon it has become."--Richmond Times-Dispatch
 
 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Jeffrey Owen Jones and Peter Meyer

  • JEFFREY OWEN JONES worked as an editor, television and film producer, journalist, and teacher. A graduate of Williams College and Middlebury College, he received an Emmy Award for his work in New York local public television and had been published in Smithsonian magazine. He died in 2007.

    PETER MEYER is a former news editor of Life magazine and the author of numerous nonfiction books, including the critically acclaimed The Yale Murder, Death of Innocence, and Dark Obsession. Meyer has also won journalism awards from the University of Missouri and the Robert Kennedy Foundation for his reporting and writing for such national publications as Harper’s Magazine, Vanity Fair, New York, Life, Time, and People. He is currently Contributing Editor at Education Next magazine and the Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.

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    The Pledge

    A History of the Pledge of Allegiance

    Jeffrey Owen Jones and Peter Meyer

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    FROM THE PUBLISHER

    Thomas Dunne Books

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