Last night I attended my monthly meeting of the Preston Trail chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). I meet with a wonderful group of ladies in Pottsboro, Texas. We always begin our meeting with a prayer, reciting of the pledge of allegiance and the Texas pledge. We sing the national anthem and we recite the American's Creed. Before joining the DAR, I had never heard of the American's Creed. As a child growing up in Irving Texas we recited the pledge of allegiance and sang the national anthem everyday in school. But not the American's Creed.
Our DAR daughter, Margaret Alverson, gave a presentation last night on William Tyler Page, the author of the American's Creed. She told the story of when she went to public school in Sherman Texas and they started their day reciting the pledge of allegiance, singing the national anthem and reciting the American's Creed. When did the public school system take this wonderful document out of our schools? Like I said, I was not aware of it and I am sure my children are not. This story moved me deeply. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and pass it along. Thank you Margaret for teaching me something new and amazing.
The following is a brief history of William Tyler Page and the American's Creed.
William Tyler Page was born in Frederick, Maryland, in 1868. He was the great great grandson of Carter Braxton, member of the House of Burgesses of the Province of Virginia, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Page also descends from the tenth President John Tyler, who served 1841-1845. In 1881, at the age of 13, Page traveled to Washington, D.C. to serve as a page in the U.S. Capitol, beginning a 61-year-long career as a national public servant.
In 1917, at the age of 49, Page wrote the "American's Creed" as a submission to a nationwide patriotic contest. The contest was inspired by the fervor at the beginning of the American entry into WWI. The goal of the contest was to have a concise but complete statement of American political faith. Inspired by the Apostles Creed he recited at church, Page drew on a wide variety of historical documents and speeches, including the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, The Gettysburg Address and various others. He proceeded to create a simple yet profoundly moving expression of American patriotism.
His submission was chosen in March 1918 out of more than 3,000 entries. On April 3, 1918 it was accepted by the Speaker of the US House of Representative and the US Commissioner of Education. He was awarded a prize of $1,000 by the Mayor of the City of Baltimore, the birthplace of the National Anthem. Mr. Page used this money to purchase Liberty Bonds for the war effort and donated them to his church.
In 1919, the year after WWI ended, Page was elected Clerk of the House of Representatives. In 1931, he was named "Emeritus Minority Clerk", a post he maintained for the remainder of his life. He was highly respected by members of both parties throughout his service, as a gentleman whose patriotism was inspirational and whose love of his country was unquestioned.
Page died in 1942, during the first year of WWII. The night before his death he gave an address to the women of the Daughters of the American Revolution on the Golden (50th) Anniversary of the writing of the "Pledge of Allegiance" . The last picture taken of him shows him with his hand over his heart, gazing at the American flag.
Concerning the Creed, William Tyler Page once said:
"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."