Somebody named Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance, but it may not be Francis Bellamy of Rome, N.Y., the Baptist pastor and avowed  Christian Socialist, who is usually considered to be the author.

Somebody named Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance, but it may not be Francis Bellamy of Rome, N.Y., the Baptist pastor and avowed  Christian Socialist, who is usually considered to be the author.

Joyce Long, Cherryvale teacher and author, believes the true author was Frank E. Bellamy, a Kansas school boy. She makes his case in her book “Be the Judge! Be the Jury! Who Wrote the Pledge of Allegiance.”

Long will give a presentation on her views and have a book signing at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Girard Public Library.

The Kansas Bellamy eventually gave up trying to prove his authorship, but In a recent telephone interview Long said that several people in Cherryvale have kept the issue alive over the years.

“We have a Frank Bellamy Scholarship at the high school, and I am  a teacher in the school system,” Long said. “I read the information and got involved.”

A Kansas Authors Club member with five children’s books to her credit, she decided to write a book about the issue.

She said that Bellamy was born in Madison, Ind., son of Judge John F. Bellamy, who served as Cherryvale’s city attorney for many years, and his wife Jennie. Young Frank started school in Girard before the family moved to Cherryvale.

Long said that Bellamy wrote the pledge at two different times as a school project, and each time the pledge was submitted to a contest. The first time was in 1890 as a class assignment, and the contest was “The Flag and the Public School,” sponsored by “Youth’s Companion” magazine.

“The Sept. 8, 1892 issue of ‘Youth’s Companion’ contained an essay that Bellamy claimed was the exact wordage and form that he had submitted, but offering no byline or credit to him,” Long said. “He contacted the magazine, and got the response that all essays, statements or written matter submitted in the contest were the property of the magazine.”

By coincidence, Francis Bellamy was editor of the magazine at that time and undoubtedly would have had access to all contest submissions.

Bellamy continued to write to the magazine, but editors finally quit answering his letters and he gave up hope of getting recognition for his pledge.

“To me the saddest thing is that he gave up hope,” Long said.

The pledge was submitted again in 1896 when Lillian Hendricks, president of the Women’s Relief Corps of Kansas, encouraged the Cherryvale High School principal to set aside a recitation hour for senior class members to write about their debt and duty to their country and government. Hendricks was so impressed by Bellamy’s composition that she submitted it to a national contest in 1898 and President William McKinley selected Bellamy’s 23-word entry as the winner. It was  “The Pledge of Allegiance,” and was identical to the words supposedly written by Francis Bellamy.

There was later controversy about the authorship of the pledge, and in 1917 a Kansas City Star story was published titled  “A Kansas Schoolboy Wrote Our Pledge of Loyalty to the Flag.” Hendrix, still living, defended Frank Bellamy, insisting there was no proof that he had ever seen the published version of the pledge, much less committed plagiarism.

The United States Flag Association conducted a formal investigation in the 1930s, and in 1939 declared Francis Bellamy and the “Youth Companion” as the true authors.
Frank Bellamy took no  part in any of this because he died in 1915 from bone tuberculosis contracted while he served in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. He moved to Denver, Colo., where his father, sister and one brother lived. A talented artist since childhood, he worked as an artist in Arkansas, Michigan and California until losing his right arm to his illness.

He died in Denver and his body was buried in an unmarked grave in his family’s plot at Fairview Cemetery. In the mid-1930s the Auxiliary of the Spanish-American War Veterans erected an original Spanish-American War Veterans headstone on his burial site.

Long hopes that her book will help advance the case for Frank Bellamy as the true author of the Pledge  of  Allegiance.

“It’s well past time that Frank gets his credit,” she said.

As for Francis Bellamy, he deserves his due as well. Long notes that at one point he acknowledged “having his back against the wall financially,” but later was quite well off.

“He made himself wealthy claiming to be the author,” Long said.

She’s looking forward to her reading and signing in Girard, and has a special engagement coming up on July 28.

“I’ll be in Madison, Ind., where Frank was born, for a book signing,” she said.

Long’s other books are “The Misadventures of Zortz,” stories written around a puppet that she purchased at a Christian magicians show several years ago.

“My husband, Marvin, is a magician on the side,” she said. “He’s a member of Mirza Shrine at Pittsburg, and there is a couple in the Shrine, Tom and Dolores Zortz. I asked them if it would be all right for me to use that name, and they said yes.”

She and her husband are now celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.