Fairfax County Chapter NSDAR

Vienna, Virginia

History of The American's Creed


The
American's Creed

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 as follows:

  • "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 Creed.

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 his church.


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 his life.

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

Published by
NATIONAL SOCIETY DAUGHTERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
1776 D STREET NW, WASHINGTON, DC 20006-5392

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