Francis Bellamy’s 1892 pledge of allegiance to the US national flag is well known. Less well known are the pledges US states have created to their own flags, seventeen in all.
With the exception of Florida, all eleven states that seceded during the US Civil War have flag pledges — though all of these were adopted far later, from 1933 (Texas) to 2007 (North Carolina). This historical legacy of “states rights” might account for these ten cases, but what of the other seven states (Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island, and South Dakota)?
Here is some contextual info for most of these non-Confederate cases:
Kentucky: Republican state senator Vernie McGaha sponsored the bill that defined the pledge in 2000. McGaha is apparently a pledge enthusiast, as in 2011 he drafted SB 15, the Kentucky School Patriot Act, to mandate dedicated time in public schools to be used for the pledge of allegiance to the US flag.
New Mexico: The pledge was a creation of a chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It originated in 1955 when the chapter was celebrating the opening of Interstate 10, which the UDC called “the Jefferson Davis Highway”, near the NM/TX border. In 1963, prompted by another highway opening ceremony, the local chapter successfully lobbied the NM legislature to make the pledge official.
Ohio: The 2002 pledge coincided with the state flag centennial.
Oklahoma: The 1982 resolution adopting the “Official Salute” reads in part, “1982 is Oklahoma’s Diamond Jubilee Anniversary and an appropriate time for adopting a salute to the Oklahoma State Flag.”
Rhode Island: The pledge was created in 1910 to instill patriotism in public school children. It is the only state flag pledge to emphasize the larger federal republic: “I pledge allegiance to our State Flag, and to the Republic of which Rhode Island forms a part; one Union inseparable, with honor and reverence for both State and Nation.” (The RI Rainbow Girls have created a longer Rhode Island Flag Tribute.)
Anyone know the story for Michigan or South Dakota, or have more context to add?
- Speck’s Web: American and State Pledges (very useful alphabetical listing of pledge dates and texts)
- Daily KOS: Seventeen states have flag pledges. Two include vows to die for their flag
- Ed Brayton’s Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Apparently, There Are State Pledges of Allegiance
- Eric Zorn’s Change of Subject: `I pledge allegiance to the flag of Illinois and the incompetence and corruption for which it stands….’
- Ed Darrell’s Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub: More state flag pledges: Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Virginia (and related posts)
- Clovis (NM) News Journal: Authors of state flag salute honored (by Karl Terry)