William Tyler Page
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William Tyler Page (1868 – October 19, 1942), was best known for his authorship of the American's Creed. He was born at 111 Record Street, in downtown Frederick, Maryland, in Frederick County, and was a descendant as the great great grandson of Carter Braxton, (1736-1797), member of the House of Burgesses of the Province of Virginia, and a signer representing further south across the Potomac River in Virginia of the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776. Page also descends from the tenth President John Tyler (1790-1862), who served 1841-1845, finishing the term of William Henry Harrison who died shortly after his inauguration (also later served in the Congress of the Confederate States). In 1881, at the age of 13, Page travelled to the National Capital, Washington D.C., to serve as a page in the U.S. Capitol, thus beginning a 61-year-long career as a national public servant.
In 1917, at age 49, Page wrote the "American's Creed" as a submission to a nationwide patriotic contest suggested by Henry Sterling Chapin of New York, inspired by a fervor at the beginning of the American entry into the First World War, the goal of which was to have a concise but complete statement of American political faith. Inspired by the thoughts on his way home from church in May 1917, having just recited the Apostles Creed, used in most Christian churches for two thousand years as a statement of belief, Page drew on a wide variety of historical documents and speeches, including the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, President Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address", a speech made by U.S. Senator and orator, Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, plus text from Edward Everett Hale's patriotic short story from 1863 of a military officer condemned to exile, "The Man Without a Country" and various others, and proceeded to craft a simple yet profoundly moving expression of American patriotism.
His submission was chosen in March 1918 above more than 3,000 other entries. On April 3, 1918 it was accepted by the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and the U.S. Commissioner of Education (then part of the U.S. Department of the Interior) on behalf of the American people (according to the "Congressional Record", No. 102, April 13, 1918). A prize of $1,000 was also awarded by Mayor James H. Preston on behalf of the City of Baltimore in Maryland, the birthplace of the National Anthem, which Mr. Page used to purchase Liberty Bonds for the war effort and donated them to his church. Today it also often comprises part of the Naturalization Ceremony when swearing-in new American citizens, along with other patriotic symbols such as the "Pledge of Allegiance" to the American flag, and the singing of various songs and anthems.
In addition, to remember Page, there is a William Tyler Page Elementary School named for him in the Montgomery County Public Schools of Montgomery County in Silver Spring, Maryland, just north across the border of the District of Columbia from Washington.
Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives
In 1919, the year after the World War ended on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, Page was elected Clerk of the House of Representatives, at the seating of the 66th United States Congress until the 71st Congress ended in 1931, while the majority in power during the 1920s was the Republican Party and later as "Emeritus Minority Clerk", a post he maintained for the remainder of his life. He was highly respected by members of both major parties throughout his service, as a principled gentleman whose patriotism was inspirational and whose love of America was unquestioned.
Page died eleven years later, during the first year of America's involvement in World War II on October 19, 1942, after serving his country his entire adult life, humbly but always proudly. The House of Representatives adjourned the following day in his honor.
For many years, Page had also served as the President General of the United States Flag Association. The night before his death, he gave an address to the women's heritage association, the Daughters of the American Revolution on the Golden (50th) Anniversary of the writing of the "Pledge of Allegiance" to the American Flag, (1892). The last picture taken of him shows him with his hand over his heart, gazing at the symbol of the country he loved.
The "American's Creed" is as follows:
"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."
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."
- American's Creed
- Pledge of Allegiance
- American Flag
- United States House of Representatives
- United States Senate
- United States Congress
- President of the United States
- Declaration of Independence
- United States Constitution
- Bill of Rights (United States)
- United States Capitol
- Washington, D.C.
- United States of America
- Daughters of the American Revolution
- Sons of the American Revolution
- Flag Day (United States)
- United States Flag Association
- National Flag Day Association
- "Art & History - Clerks". Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved 2011-06-14.
66th (1919-21) William Tyler Page MD May 19, 1919
66th (1919-21) William Tyler Page MD May 19, 1919
67th (1921-23) William Tyler Page MD Apr 11, 1921
68th (1923-25) William Tyler Page MD Dec 05, 1923
69th (1925-27) William Tyler Page MD Dec 07, 1925
70th (1927-29) William Tyler Page MD Dec 05, 1927
71st (1929-31) William Tyler Page MD Apr 15, 1929
- William Tyler Page (National Society Daughters of the American Revolution)
- History of the American's Creed (rootsweb.com)
- The American's Creed (USFlag.org)
|Clerk of the United States House of Representatives