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To the flag : the unlikely history of the Pledge of Allegiance / Richard J. Ellis.

By: Ellis, Richard (Richard J.).
Material type: TextTextPublisher: Lawrence : University Press of Kansas, c2005Description: xx, 297 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.ISBN: 0700613722 (cloth : alk. paper); 9780700613724 (cloth : alk. paper); 9780700615216 (pbk. : alk. paper); 0700615210 (pbk. : alk. paper).Subject(s): Bellamy, Francis. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag -- History | Allegiance -- United States -- History | Patriotism -- United States -- History | United States -- Social conditionsAdditional physical formats: Online version:: To the flag.DDC classification: 323.6/5/0973 LOC classification: JK1759 | .E37 2005
Contents:
Creating the pledge -- meaning of the pledge -- Spreading the pledge -- Making the pledge safe for democracy -- nation under God -- Protesting the pledge -- One nation -- indivisible? -- Conclusion: Pledging allegiance in a liberal society.
Summary: For over one hundred years, it has been deeply ingrained in American culture. Saluting the flag in public schools began as part of a national effort to Americanize immigrants, its final six words imbuing it with universal hope and breathtaking power. Now Richard Ellis unfurls the fascinating history of the Pledge of Allegiance and of the debates and controversies that have sometimes surrounded it. For anyone who has ever recited those thirty-one words, To the Flag provides an unprecedented historical perspective on recent challenges to the Pledge. As engaging as it is informative, it traces the story from the Pledge's composition by Francis Bellamy in 1892 up to the Supreme Court's action in 2004 regarding atheist Michael Newdow's objection to the words "under God". Ellis is especially good at highlighting aspects of this story that might not be familiar to most readers: the schoolhouse flag movement, the codification of the Pledge at the First National Flag Conference in 1923, changing styles of salute, and the uses of the Pledge to quell public concerns over sundry strains of radicalism. Created against the backdrop of rapid immigration, the Pledge has continued for over a century to be injected into American politics at times of heightened anxiety over the meaning of our national identity. Ellis analyzes the text of the Pledge to tell how the very words "indivisible" and "allegiance" were intended to invoke Civil War sentiments-and how "with liberty and justice for all" forms a capsule expression of the American creed. He also examines the introduction of "under God" as an anti-Communist declaration in the 1950s, demonstrating that the phrase is not mere ceremonial Deism but rather a profound expression of what has been called America's "civil religion." The Pledge has inspired millions but has also been used to promote conformity and silence dissent-indeed its daily recitation in schools and legislatures tells us as much about our anxieties as a nation as they do about our highest ideals. Ellis reveals how, for over a century, those who have been most fearful about threats to our national identity have often been most insistent on the importance of patriotic rituals. Indeed, by addressing this inescapable paradox of our civic life, Ellis opens a new and unexpected window on the American soul.
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Book University of Texas At Tyler
Stacks - 3rd Floor
JK1759 .E37 2005 (Browse shelf) Available 0000001995117

Includes bibliographical references (p. [223]-279) and index.

Creating the pledge -- The meaning of the pledge -- Spreading the pledge -- Making the pledge safe for democracy -- A nation under God -- Protesting the pledge -- One nation -- indivisible? -- Conclusion: Pledging allegiance in a liberal society.

For over one hundred years, it has been deeply ingrained in American culture. Saluting the flag in public schools began as part of a national effort to Americanize immigrants, its final six words imbuing it with universal hope and breathtaking power. Now Richard Ellis unfurls the fascinating history of the Pledge of Allegiance and of the debates and controversies that have sometimes surrounded it. For anyone who has ever recited those thirty-one words, To the Flag provides an unprecedented historical perspective on recent challenges to the Pledge. As engaging as it is informative, it traces the story from the Pledge's composition by Francis Bellamy in 1892 up to the Supreme Court's action in 2004 regarding atheist Michael Newdow's objection to the words "under God". Ellis is especially good at highlighting aspects of this story that might not be familiar to most readers: the schoolhouse flag movement, the codification of the Pledge at the First National Flag Conference in 1923, changing styles of salute, and the uses of the Pledge to quell public concerns over sundry strains of radicalism. Created against the backdrop of rapid immigration, the Pledge has continued for over a century to be injected into American politics at times of heightened anxiety over the meaning of our national identity. Ellis analyzes the text of the Pledge to tell how the very words "indivisible" and "allegiance" were intended to invoke Civil War sentiments-and how "with liberty and justice for all" forms a capsule expression of the American creed. He also examines the introduction of "under God" as an anti-Communist declaration in the 1950s, demonstrating that the phrase is not mere ceremonial Deism but rather a profound expression of what has been called America's "civil religion." The Pledge has inspired millions but has also been used to promote conformity and silence dissent-indeed its daily recitation in schools and legislatures tells us as much about our anxieties as a nation as they do about our highest ideals. Ellis reveals how, for over a century, those who have been most fearful about threats to our national identity have often been most insistent on the importance of patriotic rituals. Indeed, by addressing this inescapable paradox of our civic life, Ellis opens a new and unexpected window on the American soul.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Ellis (Mark O. Hatfield Professor of Politics, Willamette Univ.) has written a thoughtful, thorough history of America's most revered patriotic mantra, which was borne out of the anxiety and fear of large-scale immigration at the turn of the 19th century. The author of the Pledge of Allegiance was Francis Bellamy, a pastor with Christian Socialist convictions who created the 23-word poem for a nationwide school celebration in honor of Columbus Day. According to Ellis, Bellamy's motives were to stress the need for self-sacrifice during the Gilded Age and to offer the new wave of child aliens lessons in American loyalty. Through the ensuing decades, the Pledge was legislated into public schools as a mandatory patriotic ritual. It subsequently became a tool of patriotic vigilantes, which led to a 1943 Supreme Court ruling against laws to "force citizens" to recite the Pledge. During the Cold War, the words under God were added to the Pledge by Congress to distinguish Americans from the "godless" Communists. And by the 1960s, Pledge protest had become aligned with antiwar leftists and minorities who saw hypocrisy in the phrase "with liberty and justice for all." Ellis also covers the recent politicizing of the Pledge by Republicans against Democrats, starting in 1988 when George H.W. Bush attacked Michael Dukakis for vetoing a Pledge bill when he was governor of Massachusetts. While the Pledge of Allegiance is second nature to many of us, Ellis's sociohistorical study reveals it to be the ultimate American paradox: a poem intended to unite the people instead has shown us to be a nation sharply divided over our own self-image. Recommended as a timely purchase.-Janet Sassi, Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

CHOICE Review

The US is unique today among Western democracies in repetitively requiring a loyalty oath from its school children. In this excellent, comprehensive history of the Pledge of Allegiance, Ellis (politics, Willamette Univ.) concludes that while superficially expressing pride in the US's "indivisible" democracy, the Pledge "from its inception, has mirrored the history of American anxieties" and has "often been employed in cynical and divisive ways by politicians who have used it to mobilize political support and to portray opponents as insufficiently patriotic." The Pledge, originally conceived in 1892, reflected fears concerning the nation's ability to assimilate "new immigrants" from southern and eastern Europe. Its subsequent spread and amendment was largely a response to threats of alien radical subversion, and thus it was increasingly mandated in the schools in the aftermath of the 1919 Great Red Scare, while "under God" was added in 1954 during the Cold War to ward off godless communists. Ellis's book is exhaustively (if sometimes obsessively) researched and clearly written. One puzzling flaw is his almost total failure to mention the flag desecration controversy and to draw obvious, overwhelming parallels between the origins, motivations, and developments of the pro-Pledge and anti-desecration movements. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. R. J. Goldstein Oakland University

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