The Pledge of Allegiance and the Kansas Connection?

Photo by Danne on Pexels.com

James Upham and Francis Bellamy (pictured below right), who worked at The Youth’s Companion Magazine, started a movement to put a US flag in every schoolhouse in the nation. They also wanted a vow of loyalty that could be recited by anyone. Francis Bellamy wrote the 23 words that appeared in the September 8, 1892, edition of the Companion. The article did not list an author.

This is where the story gets interesting and a little confusing.

In 1890 (two years before the allegiance publication), high school students were asked to write about their thoughts on the flag.  It was part of a contest, “The Flag and the Public School” sponsored by, The Youth’s Companion. The deadline was April 1890.

“I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Frank E. Bellamy, from Cherryvale, KS, claimed the September 8, 1892 article is almost the same one he submitted. Frank reached out to the magazine who told him that anything submitted to them was their property. 

In May 1898 Frank enlisted in the 20th Kansas Infantry unit in the Philippines during the Spanish-America War.  During that time, another contest was held and Mrs. Lillian Hendricks submitted Frank Bellamy’s pledge.

The 51st Iowa Volunteers leaving the Presidio and heading for the Philippines in 1898. Courtesy: Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Frank developed Tuberculosis and was sent home to Kansas in 1899. That’s when Mrs. Hendricks told him that President William McKinley selected his pledge.   

The words were the same as those written by the other Bellamy, Francis in the September 8, 1892 The Youth’s Companion .

A 1917 article in the Kansas City Star, “A Kansas Schoolboy Wrote Our Pledge of Loyalty to the Flag” started a debate about the Pledge’s true author. 

In 1957, the Library of Congress supported a study stating Francis Bellamy wrote the pledge for The Youth’s Companion. 

Frank Bellamy moved to Denver, where he died in 1915. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Cherryvale. In the mid-1930s, the Auxiliary of the Spanish-American War Veterans erected an original Spanish-American War Veterans headstone on his burial site.

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

The story does not end here, not quite… check out the short history of the Bellamy Salute.

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