Rome: The boyhood home of the author of the Pledge of Allegiance.
A granite shaft, located in the historic Rome Cemetery, marks the grave of Rev. Francis Bellamy, author of the Pledge of Allegiance. As a young boy, Francis came with his parents to Rome, New York, where his father had accepted a call to become the minister of the First Baptist Church. The Bellamy family home, razed some years ago, once stood at the northeast corner of North James and Stanwix Streets.
Francis was educated in Rome public schools and graduated from Rome Free Academy in 1872. In the fall of 1872, Francis entered the University of Rochester, where he pursued a course of study that would eventually lead him to enter the seminary. Upon graduation from the university in 1876, he entered the Rochester Theological Seminary where he completed his theological training in 1879.
The Rev. Francis Bellamy served two Boston congregations prior to resigning his pastorate to accept a position on the staff of the newly created Youth’s Companion magazine. In 1892 the magazine launched a national campaign, the purpose of which was to encourage patriotic consciousness in American life, particularly among school children, and it was during this campaign that Rev. Bellamy authored The Pledge. He intended for his flag salute to be used by any nation. It gained national acceptance as a flag salute recited strictly by school children, until Congress formally adopted the Pledge of Allegiance in 1942. Rev. Bellamy’s original salute has been modified four times since its first publication.
Rev. Francis Bellamy never again resided permanently in Rome after leaving the seminary. However, in 1931, and with great ceremony, his remains were interred in the Bellamy family plot in the historic Rome Cemetery alongside his father and mother. A beautiful park beside the former City Hall and one of Rome’s elementary schools proudly bear the Bellamy name.