The Official Pledge of Allegiance Salute Used to be a ‘Hitler Salute’

… Yes, that title is correct. Read on, intrepid history-seekers.

The pledge of allegiance was originally written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a socialist magazine writer. When he wrote it for an children’s magazine, he also described a salute that he thought would be appropriate during its recital.

The pledge was aimed towards children, and the magazine also gave free flags away to schools, where the pledge was originally recited. The salute they were taught to give, with one stiff arm outstretched toward the flag, was deemed the “Bellamy salute” after its creator (who had gotten the idea from a salute that the Romans had done).


Above: The Bellamy Salute, before WWII
In the early 1940s, it was noticed that the salute bore a resemblance to a certain other salute being used in Germany at the time (which was based off of the same original Roman salute). As a result, it was formally replaced by Congress with the now-customary hand-on-heart during the pledge.

Below are three photographs showing the old salute, now in the Library of Congress, which were taken in May 1942 in Southington, Connecticut, just one month before the new salute became official. These photographs were taken by Charles Fenno Jacobs, a photojournalist who was at the time employed by the US government.

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39 Responses to “The Official Pledge of Allegiance Salute Used to be a ‘Hitler Salute’”

  1. Hail Caesar! It’s where they both got it from. You always have to look further and further in history.

  2. Hitler used the ancient gesture of greeting Caesar…….. If you publish something on the web you better be right…if not people might confuse you with pro-Hitler…..

  3. If you read the above entry, you would notice that we wrote “In the early 1940s, it was noticed that the salute bore a resemblance to a certain other salute being used in Germany at the time (which was based off of the same original Roman salute).”

    The above post is not suggesting that Americans who saluted that way were pro-Hitler in any way, although ironically in fact some Americans in the late 1930s and early 1940s accused Americans who saluted the flag that way and didn’t want to go to war of being Nazis. See this article about the Bellamy Salute on Wikipedia for more information about this, especially the part about Charles Lindbergh.

  4. I dont get why anything hitler did is directly frowned upon after, caeser salute, the charlie chaplin mustache, the swastika which i believe meant good fortune (and still does) in hindu (not 100% sure if it is a hindu symbol)
    Damn you hitler! You took away a style of mustache, salute, and symbolism! :(

  5. Jean Weiss, probably the best reason for filtering the population by IQ before allowing comments online!!!! That comment brings new meaning to ‘RTFQ’, come on America, where do you breed these people. Is there a US Dept of Cloning which has gone unspeakably wrong or is it the lack of perception of an outside world which makes a sizeable proportion of you oxygen thieves?!? (answers on a postcard)

  6. I hate the title of this article. It’s definitely worded just to make people think the pledge of allegiance was Nazi propaganda. Reading the first couple of lines of the story show that it’s just alarmist stupidity.

  7. Yes, boo hoo. I hate everything too.

  8. Why do these things make everyone so crazy? So some kids stuck their hands out to honor the frag and then Hitler started using it. Did it never acure to anyone that if we had continued using it and rubbed Hitler’s nose in it maybe he would have stopped using it. Why do we have to be the ones to back down just so some one isn’t offended. Boo Hoo, we should have told Hitler to back off or we would kick his ass. Oh wait, we did kick his ass.

  9. Look, I’m a history teacher. And the pledge of allegiance was not born in 1892 by whatever schmuck this article suggests. It was created in 1860 as the Civil War was under way. Hence the phrase, “one nation… indivisible with justice for all.” And in the thirties there was a huge pro hitler movement in the United States and the rest of the world for that matter. The guy was Time’s man of the year. He did a lot of great things before he unleashed his craziness all over the world.

  10. Well yes he was man of the year, because of his influence and power, not because we liked him at all. Here’s the article about him in that Times publication http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,760539-1,00.html . For everyone too lazy to look at this article here’s one quote in particular that shows their view of Hitler

    “Hitler reaped on that day at Munich the harvest of an audacious, defiant, ruthless foreign policy he had pursued for five and a half years. He had torn the Treaty of Versailles to shreds. He had rearmed Germany to the teeth— or as close to the teeth as he was able. He had stolen Austria before the eyes of a horrified and apparently impotent world.”

  11. The article just points out an odd coincidence in history! It is not saying anything positive about Hitler or anything negative about America!

  12. [...] También más información y fotos en Library Rochester , en Wikimedia y The Forgotten [...]

  13. Oh dear, Don Powell…I hope you teach your students from a book. I haven’t taken an American history class in 18 years and even I remember that the Bellamy did write the Pledge in 1892.

  14. Actually, this was the official salute for the US military pre-world war II.

  15. I enjoyed reading your article as it was informative and fairly well written. I don’t know how anyone could have come to the opinion that either your article or its title are pro Hitler.

    p.s. “(which was based off of the same original Roman salute).” I think you mean “based on” as there has never been and will never be any place in the English language where “off of” is correct grammar or even sensible. Good grammar makes your writing more legible and seem more professional. You should also include an authors credit.

  16. Actually, the double preposition thing is not true. Sorry.
    But it should be “based on”. You’re right about that.

  17. Actually it was not an ancient Roman salute. Everyone should be careful with wikipedia and not cite it as reference material. Even the wikipedia article does not say (usually) that it was an ancient Roman salute (however wikipedia changes by the milisecond, and is often deliberately misleading on this issue). See the work of Dr. Rex Curry (author of “Pledge of Allegiance Secrets”). The Pledge was the origin of the stiff arm salute adopted later by the National Socialist German Workers Party.

  18. [...] http://history.verdeserve.com/the-official-american-flag-salute-used-to-be-a-hitler-salute/ [...]

  19. History is a bitch

  20. “I think you mean “based on” as there has never been and will never be any place in the English language where “off of” is correct grammar or even sensible.”

    Never has been? Never will be? How about “Get off of me.” Maybe you should think before you type?

  21. Don Powell, do you use any reference materials when you teach or do you just make it up as you go along?

  22. Francis Bellamy did not gain the lift the gesture from the so-called “ancient Roman salute” myth. The stiff-armed gesture arose because Bellamy began the pledge (1892) with a military salute that was then extended out toward the flag. The Pledge was the origin of the salute adopted later by the National Socialist German Workers Party, as shown in the discoveries of the symbologist Dr. Rex Curry (author of “Pledge of Allegiance Secrets”). Bellamy was also a socialist in the Nationalism movement long before German National Socialism. Francis Bellamy and Edward Bellamy influenced the National Socialist German Workers Party and its dogma, symbols and rituals (e.g. robotic collective chanting to flags et cetera). No one should cite wikipedia as it is an anonymous bulletin board. Even wakipedia does not say (usually) that it was an ancient Roman salute (however wikipedia changes by the millisecond, and is often deliberately misleading on this issue).

  23. Interesting post, thanks for sharing.

    ps I have no idea (nor any interest) in whether ‘off of’ is gramatically correct, but it is ugly. In most costructions the ‘of’ can be dropped. So ‘get off of me’ can be shortened to ‘get off me’. There may be examples where it is necessary but for the most part the ‘of’ is redundant.

  24. I really can’t believe it. I hope Wayne Rooney is not injured for the cup!

  25. The correct headline should be that the “Official Hitler salute used to be the American Allegiance Salute” taken from the Romans. Twisting the inflection of the story is so typical.
    Either get it right or get of of the business of reporting information that you don’t know how to report correctly!

  26. RufusVonDufus on March 30th, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Students are now taught in our middle, high school and colleges to salute the military with their middle finger on either hand.

  27. I was born in early 1936 so my first year of school was 1941. I can tell you that NEVER did we raise the arm and salute the flag with the palm down! It was ALWAYS WITH THE PALM UP. Perhaps the fotos on this site were taken before I came along ~ ;)

  28. Just reread article and notice the fotos were supposedly taken in 1942 Connecticut. It’s really amazing that the salute was different in New Orleans and other southern states than what was done in the northeastern state of Connecticut. Our palms were VERY DEFINITELY “UP”! And we weren’t ‘stiff armed’, just a relaxed arm outstretched, palm up ~ ; )

  29. Stewart Williams on October 5th, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I find the title misleading. It seems to suggest that our salute to the pledge of allegiance was adopted directly from the Nazi’s, but as you explain, both salutes came from an earlier Roman salute instead.

  30. Mr. Powell

    “Look, I’m a history teacher. And the pledge of allegiance was not born in 1892 by whatever schmuck this article suggests. It was created in 1860 as the Civil War was under way.”

    “I’m a history teacher…in 1860 as the Civil War was under way”

    I think you meant written in the 1860′s as the Civil War GOT under way perhaps?

  31. [...] was known for his sermon “Jesus the Socialist,” for his flag fetishism and the proto-Nazi Bellamy salute that went with [...]

  32. Francis Bellamy did not lift the gesture from the so-called “ancient Roman salute” myth. The stiff-armed gesture arose because Bellamy began the pledge (1892) with a military salute that was then extended out toward the flag. In practice, the 2nd gesture was performed palm down because people merely pointed the military salute at the flag. The Pledge was the origin of the salute adopted later by the National Socialist German Workers Party, as shown in the discoveries of the historian Dr. Rex Curry. Bellamy was also a socialist in the Nationalism movement long before German National Socialism. Francis Bellamy and Edward Bellamy influenced the National Socialist German Workers Party and its dogma, rituals (robotic chanting on command) and symbols (the use of the swastika as crossed S-letters for “socialism”). No one should cite wikipedia as it is an anonymous bulletin board. Even wakipedia does not say (usually) that it was an ancient Roman salute (however wikipedia changes by the millisecond, and is often deliberately misleading on this issue). Bellamy did not use an older Roman salute as there was no older Roman salute.

  33. Don Powell, you don’t seem particularly suited to be a history teacher. Pat Buchanan also claimed that Hitler did good things before the crazy stuff. That is simply not true. He started politics as a bellicose demagogue spouting extreme anti-semitism. He became chancellor in December 1933, and by the next summer books were being burned in the streets. No, the adult Hitler was never good.

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  35. [...] The Official Pledge of Allegiance Salute Used to be a ‘Hitler Salute‘Jan 4, 2009 … The Official Pledge of Allegiance Salute Used to be a ‘Hitler Salute’ … Yes, that title is correct. Read on, intrepid history-seekers. The pledge of … [...]

  36. [...] [...]

  37. I was born in January of 1936. Raised in Michigan. We did do the ……. Hitler ….. type salute. Also it was , ” on nation indivisible”. Under God was not written in the Pledge of Allegiance. It was added much later.

  38. [...] reference was not added until over 60 years after the pledge was written [7] *  that the original pledge salute was one stiff arm outstretched toward the flag, [8] a posture later used by a certain German [...]

  39. [...] (http://forgottenhistoryblog.com/the-official-american-flag-salute-used-to-be-a-hitler-salute/) [...]