Discoveries: The Youth's Companion

By: Jeffrey Kiley - Advantage Archives

The Youth’s Companion was the first publication written specifically for children in 1827. It was a highly influential magazine that was in print for over a century. 

In 1827 The Youth’s Companion started as a small, “virtue-based” periodical centered on religion to “warn against the ways of transgression, error and ruin, and allure to those of virtue and piety.”  The bedtime prayer, “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep,” was published in the first issue and is still recited by children worldwide.

On September 8, 1892, The Youth’s Companion published the “Pledge Of Allegiance” by Francis Bellamy, a socialist minister. He wrote the pledge with the intention that any nation and any citizen could use it.

The original version read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” It wouldn’t be for another 30 years until the words “the Flag of the United States of America” were added to the pledge. Another 30 years would pass before President Eisenhower would “under God” in 1954.

In 1892, Bellamy also included instructions for how the pledge should be executed.  It began with a military salute (later changed to a hand over the heart), and after reciting the words “to the flag,” one was to raise their arm toward the flag with their palm facing downward. The practice lasted until the salute was dropped during WWII as the tribute mirrored the Nazi salute.

Over the years, highly respected authors, political figures, and people of influence contributed their words to the magazine. Some of the more notable names included Kipling, Harriett Beecher Stowe, Thomas Hardy, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, Booker T. Washington, Helen Keller, Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton, Jack London, and Emily Dickinson.

In 1927 the magazine folded with the oncoming Great Depression, but its contributions to society carry on.

This ad was found on page 5 of the Calmar Courier, published in Calmar, Iowa on Friday, January 6th, 1922

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