by William Tyler Page
WILLIAM TYLER PAGE, of Friendship Heights, Maryland,
gave to the citizens of this Country The American's Creed:
I believe in the United States of America as a Government of
the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the
consent of the governed, - a democracy in a republic, a sovereign nation of many
sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable, established upon those principles
of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed
their lives and fortunes.
I therefore believe it is my duty to my Country to love it; to support its Constitution;
to obey its laws; to respect its Flag; and to defend it against all enemies.
Examples of documented phrases in The American's Creed are
- "The United States of America." -- Preamble, Constitution
of the United States.
- "A Government of the people, by the people, for the people."
-- Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
- "Whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed."
-- Declaration of Independence.
- "A sovereign Nation of many sovereign States." -- Drawn
from Article IV of the Constitution
- "A perfect Union." --Preamble to the Constitution.
- "One and inseparable." -- Daniel Webster.
- "Established upon those principles of freedom, equality,
justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes."
-- Derived from Declaration of Independence.
- "I therefore believe it is my duty to my Country to love
it." -- In substance from Edward Everett Hale's "The Man Without a Country."
- "To obey its laws." -- Compiled from Article VI, Constitution
of the United States.
The complete proceedings in regard to the official acceptance of
The American's Creed may be found in the Congressional Record, No. 102, April 13,
1918. The American's Creed is destined to live in American history as it is a composite
of fundamental patriotic literature.
This creed was written as a result of a nationwide contest. Henry Sterling Chapin,
of New York, conceived the idea of promoting the contest for the writing of a national
creed, which should be the briefest possible summary of American political faith
and yet be founded upon the fundamental things most distinctive in American history
and tradition. Mayor James H. Preston of Baltimore, Maryland, offered a reward of
a thousand dollars for the winning creed. It seemed especially fitting that the birthplace
of the National Anthem should have the honor of presenting the prize for the National
One day, when the contest had been in progress for some time, the idea was presented
to Mr. Page that he should write a creed and thus enter this contest. Coming home
from church on a Sunday in May, 1917, the thought occurred to Mr. Page to compose
a creed fashioned along the lines of the Christian or Apostles' Creed.
William Tyler Page was a student of history and so was familiar with the great documents
of our United States as well as the famous statements of many of our great Americans.
The compilation of his proposed creed was changed day by day until finally completed
to his satisfaction.
The creed was sent to the committee on manuscripts for the contest in August, 1917.
Then in March, 1918, Mr. Page received notice from the committee that he was the
successful competitor among more than three thousand contestants. The award was presented
by Mayor Preston on April 3, 1918, in the House of Representatives Office Building,
Washington, D.C. The creed was accepted on the part of the United States by the Commissioner
of Education and by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Three days after
the award Mr. Page purchased Liberty Bonds with the prize money and gave them to
In the words of William Tyler Page, "The American's Creed is
a summing up, in one hundred words, of the basic principles of American political
faith. It is not an expression of individual opinion upon the obligations and duties
of American citizenship or with respect to its rights and privileges. It is a summary
of the fundamental principles of American political faith as set forth in its greatest
documents, its worthiest traditions and by its greatest leaders."
The family roots of William Tyler Page go back to 1650, when the first progenitor
of his family, John Page, settled in Williamsburg, Virginia. Carter Braxton, Mr.
Page's great-great grandfather, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and
a member of the House of Burgesses of Virginia which adopted the resolutions of Patrick
Henry. Mr. Page is both a lineal and collateral descendant of President John Tyler.
Mr. Page gave almost sixty-one years of service at the United States Capitol, starting
to work as a page on December 19, 1881, at the age of thirteen. In 1919 he was elected
Clerk of the House and held that office until December, 1931. Then a new post was
created for him -- emeritus minority clerk -- which he held for the remainder of
The last public appearance of William Tyler Page was on Sunday evening, October 18,
1942, when he was a guest of the Daughters of the American Revolution at the 50th
anniversary celebration of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, and led in the recitation
of The American's Creed. The next day, on October 19, 1942, Mr. Page passed into
the Great Beyond. On this day the House of Representatives adjourned in honor of
his memory. For twenty-two consecutive years Mr. Page led the assemblage in The American's
Creed at the Continental Congresses of the DAR.
The Nation lost a great American citizen. During his mature life Mr. Page worked
tirelessly in interpreting the meaning of the Flag and disseminating patriotic information
concerning its religious and patriotic symbolism.
The American's Creed as given to us by William Tyler Page arouses in every American
a deep sense of responsibility to preserve our Country and our constitutional form
of Government as given to us by our Forefathers.
Photo of William Tyler Page courtesy of his granddaughter,
ANNE TYLER PIERCE MAGIERSKI
History of The American's Creed by
MARGUERITE COURTRIGHT PATTON
NATIONAL SOCIETY DAUGHTERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
1776 D STREET NW, WASHINGTON, DC 20006-5392